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Critical 20: No. 8 Gary Moore

Like any football team, Texas Tech has several players whose performance will be particularly critical to the squad's success. These players, whether by virtue of experience, leadership, importance of the position played, depth concerns, or sheer talent, are especially crucial. They may or not be the best players on the club, but they would be very conspicuous were they absent.

It is rare in the game of football, at any level, for a team to start two genuine pass rushing defensive ends. In the vast majority of cases a base 4-3 defense will feature one strong defensive end whose primary purpose is to set the edge against the run, sometimes defeating a tackle/tight end double team in the process. The other defensive end will usually be a smaller, speedier player whose forte is heating up the quarterback.

Off the top of my head only three pass rushing bookends spring to mind in modern history of the college game: Reinard Wilson/Peter Boulware at Florida State, Kenard Lang/Kenny Holmes at Miami, and Rosevelt Colvin/Chukie Nwokorie at Purdue. To my knowledge Texas Tech has never fielded such a combination at defensive end. 

That may change in 2016. Notre Dame transfer Kolin Hill gives strong indication of being a legitimate rusher at one end spot, while junior letterman Gary Moore could well do the same at the other.

From his arrival on campus, initially as a wide receiver prospect, Moore has been something of a practice field legend. First remarks leaking out of 7-on-7 workouts and informal quarterback/receiver drills when Moore was a freshman whispered in borderline awe of his freakish athletic ability. But rather than make a big splash as a freshman wideout, Moore redshirted.

Directly he was moved to defensive end where his athleticism could be equally useful. Problem was that the 6-foot-5 Moore had a bit of difficulty packing on the weight necessary to be a viable player at the position. In those early days Moore was little, if any over 220 pounds. 

But steadily, Moore gained weight, enough so that he could see meaningful snaps last year. Unfortunately, he was dinged up for much of his sophomore campaign, so it is difficult to know exactly what the Tech defense has in Moore. He did, however, play enough to accumulate four tackles for loss and three sacks. And that sack total, modest though it is, was second best on the team. 

Now Moore is a physically healthy, 240-pound junior who is poised to be a starter on opening day. That mind boggling athleticism is still there—defensive line coach Kevin Patrick recently called his speed “spectacular”—and with several promising lineman set to assist on the defensive line, Moore could be on the verge of a breakout season. And a strong pass rushing line would cure a few of the ills that have plagued the Red Raider defense for well on an eternity.  

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