Off-Season Talk: Moore Works Hard

In our first of a series of off-season interviews, two-year starter at safety, Rahim Moore, sat down with BRO recently and talked about everything Bruin, from next year's defense, his workout regimen, stepping up as a leader, and what the program has to do to keep progressing...

Tell me about the Walter Camp Weekend back in Connecticut ... You had to be one of the youngest guys there on that All-American team …

‘'Yeah, I was the youngest. They said I was, as far as my birthday, probably the youngest to ever go. That was a good thing. A lot of guys thought I was like 22. When they heard about me they said, ‘Oh, are you a senior?' and I'm like, ‘Man, I'm just a sophomore.' I'm only 19 and everyone else was 22, 21 … (Ndamukong) Suh thought I was a senior. It was good. I enjoyed it and I learned a lot, too, a lot of things that I can work on, and just meeting the types of people that were there. It was a good thing to be a part of with Colt (McCoy) and Suh, all them guys. I actually worked out with Suh, in the little fitness center.''

He has to be a little intimidating to lift with …

‘'Yeah, he's a big dude. But we just ran a mile, did some shoulders and stuff like that, did some abs. I learned a lot from them, got those guy's numbers and they said to call them for any advice or anything.''

So, obviously, your sophomore year was up there. But statistics aside, the interceptions aside, how do you become a better player for next season?

‘'Now I have to work twice as hard, three times as hard. You know, I have to make sure I‘m ahead of the game. I have to do what I did last year and then put a little more into it. I did the extra, staying up late and watching film and going back into the weight room after the workouts were over to get a little extra work in, after practice doing a little extra foot work and hitting drills and stuff like that. Now I have to do that twice as much. Much is given, much is required. If I do that, I'll be fine. I'm a hard worker and I've never settled. I'm never satisfied. Even if I got 10 interceptions and was an All-American last year, I wasn't satisfied. I'll be satisfied when we win all of our games – that's when you're supposed to be satisfied. There are a lot of things I need to work on personally in the football and off the field – there are a lot of areas of improvement for me. That's one thing that I always tell myself and I'm really working hard … like I'm a freshman.''

Physically, from your freshman year to your sophomore year you made some significant gains. What's next … how far can you take that without compromising speed or agility?

‘'I'm just going to keep doing what Coach (Mike) Linn is giving us and, like I said, just doing extra things … running hills, getting in that sand pit, staying up late doing extra stuff. What I do, I work when everyone else is asleep. I've been in bed and thought about a tackle that I missed or a bad angle, just anything, and I got up and went running on the track, or I'll go out the field and practice on what I need to work on. That's what I do. As far as physically, I think I need to get more physical in my tackling and stuff. I want to be a tackling machine, like Eric Berry. He's probably the best tackler that I've seen and I admire what he does. By me seeing him and playing his game, I think if I have what the tangibles that he has as far as tackling and the other things that he has, I think I'll be an OK player.''

Just OK?

‘'Just OK. I'm not great yet. I still have a lot more to do and I have a lot more to prove, man. I have a lot to give for this team and I'm going to keep giving it for as long as I'm here. I want to be a difference maker to where all the younger guys look up to me and want to say, ‘I want to be like Rahim,' so when I leave after my senior year people can say, ‘Man, I know exactly how to go about work. Look how Rahim did it.' A lot of guys see how my season turned out, saw all the work I put in, and now they're doing the same things. That's what makes you a good player, too, a great player – when you help out other individuals. Guys like Jordan and Kobe, they make other players around them better. That's what makes you a better athlete and a better person, too.''

That work, that doesn't just happen …

‘'I've been doing this since I was a kid, man. You know what, I've never really said this to anybody, but when I was younger, I was so much of a hard worker when I was younger, I'm talking in the 90s, '97, '98, all my life, I remember I'd be in Pop Warner football and I'd play a whole game of Pop Warner and after that I'd go play flag football for one of my best friends' dad's, I'd go out there and play five games of flag football. That's how much I love football. I was getting extra back then and the stuff I do now, I can see that paying off, and I was doing that every year. I remember when I was younger, I'd be back-pedaling 100 yards. In high school I used to back-pedal 200 yards after practice and I do the same here. Success doesn't come easy. I realized that after my freshman year when I didn't get the accolades that I felt I deserved. I had to tell myself, ‘You have to grow up. This is what you wanted. People will pump you up to say you're this and that, but you have to show them.' I was in some deep, deep, prayer and there were times where I felt I needed to work on things and just went about my business a little harder.''

You mentioned the physical aspect of tackling. That's something you feel you need to improve on?

‘'Oh, yeah. I think this year I was a better tackler than I was my freshman year, and that just came with more experience. I'm not the Sean Taylor or like the Ronnie Lott that will knock you out every time, but I will bring you down and I will wrap you up and keep driving my feet. Every now and then I get a little hit in, but I think my strong point is I'm a good open field tackler and tackling, everybody has to improve on that. I think as I get older my tackling will keep getting better so next year when coming into the season my tackling will be a lot better from my freshman year, from my sophomore year, now to my junior year. Tackling is always an important key, especially for me being the last line of defense. I have to get the guy down somehow someway or he's going to be behind me scoring and I like that type of pressure, I welcome that because that's the whole point of playing free safety.''

Talking about improvement, improving things for next season … the film work that you do, I'm wondering how much that played a part in the 10 interceptions that you had.

‘'It played a lot, man. One thing, I was blessed to have coaches who coached my favorite player ever in sports history in Ed Reed. Coach (Rick) Neuheisel and Coach (Frank) Gansz, they told me how much film that guy watches. So I said, ‘Ed Reed watches a lot of film and he performs …' My freshman year, I watched film as much as I could – sometimes I was busy with school and trying to learn the system and stuff. Now my sophomore year I started understanding things, knowing different nuances of what an offense is trying to do - certain breaks and certain routes, a quarterback telegraphing his throws, are their throws strong to the right side or the left side? I was learning all that stuff.

‘'Coach Neuheisel and Coach Gansz told me, Ed Reed, every time he has an away game he watches film on the plane. I said, really? That guy is making big-time plays and is a future Hall of Famer, I said, man, I want to be a great free safety in college, the best free safety to play in college, and I said I'm going to do the same. So I watched it. Going to the Tennessee game, I watched film there and the same plays that I was watching, the two plays that I told, that I prayed that I wanted to pick off, I picked them off. I almost had three. Then the Arizona game I had two interceptions. I watched that. Against Washington State I could have had two picks. I had one. And then Temple I had my 10th. It was paying off. Instead of watching movies and stuff and watching ESPN, I'm taking care of business.

‘'When I saw how it paid off, I said I'm going to do this forever. I'm going to do it more and more. And when I'm watching film at home, I don't just sit there and watch I actually stand up and put myself in the TV, put myself in that screen and work and move around and stuff, so when I get out on the field it's easy to me. That's just one thing that I've learned, that I've experienced for myself, knowing (how) to put myself in a great place at the right time. See, people think interceptions, oh, some that I had were just given to me. But I knew when a play was coming. San Diego State, I knew, like, the quarterback has a strong arm and he always overthrows his receivers on certain routes, so I went out of my boundary a little bit and started deepening up a little more because I knew he was going to throw them right to me and that's exactly what he did. And I knew that. I knew from the jump what he liked to do, and I knew he stares his receivers down, and I knew if I stayed deep that ball was coming right to me.''

I sat in the film room last year with Alterraun Verner and he was big on knowing the personnel groups and the formations, then every motion was a clue, every shift was a clue, he wanted to know every route they ran out of them, and he always knew what could be coming ...

‘'I know when a team has 11 personnel, 10 personnel, there's only so much you can do – draw, screens, pop passes, quick game or deep balls. And I know, in certain situations, I know how a team wants to throw the ball. … Like Arizona, they're a good team in the red zone and I knew they liked to run a lot of slants and all that stuff. Their (receiver) kept trying to slip behind the linebackers to get there and I knew that. They kept doing it all game. They were doing it when they were backed up. They got into the red zone and I had looked it up, the personnel, saw when they're in 11 or 10 personnel, they like to run a lot of slants and they know the way we play our defenses, I know that a slant is where our dangers are. I realized that and I saw on their (play) frequency – slant, slant, slant, slant, slant. So I was like, the offensive coordinator is going to do what he does, and I knew it and I jumped it and it was a pick.

‘'I do the same thing (as Verner). I put all that stuff in order - the frequency of the personnel, what routes come up the most. It's funny, because teams go out there and do the exact same things. That's one thing you learn, learning from guys like Alterraun Verner, who taught me a lot. One time we were playing against a team and whenever they come out in a 3 by 1 and that tight end blocks, they run sluggos. Whenever that tight end goes out and runs a drag route, they run a post. Me and Verner, we weren't even looking at our man, we were looking at the tight end and keying on him. We used to always do that. That's why we were up on those routes. We watched it the night before, we watched it that morning, we watched it in that afternoon. That's the work you have to put in.''

That work is going to be really important next year, losing so many key pieces to the defense. How do you see it all coming together without a Reggie Carter, without a Brian Price, without Alterraun, the Bosworth's, Jerzy …

‘'I think it will be fine. I think next year we need some youth in there, some guys who want to play and are so hungry, because they're going to give it all they've got. They're going to study and they're going to make sure they don't do anything wrong, so they don't lose their spot. And I'm telling you, I've seen some guy's faces in that weight room and those guys are working hard. David Allen, Isaiah Bowens, David Carter, all those cats … Aaron Hester … we're all in there working.

‘'And you know what, one thing about losing people and getting people, you never know what you're going to be getting out of them. Before Brian came in, they lost some guys, but he came in and started dominating. So, you never know. We might have a middle linebacker who might produce better than Reggie Carter. I'm not saying Reggie Carter isn't a great player – he is. But a young player might come in and know his stuff and actually play like a senior. You might get a guy like Aaron Hester, who wants to play, who hasn't played in two years, who might go out there and rip things up, might be the best shutdown corner in the country. You never know what you're going to get out of them. ...

‘'We've got a lot of guys learning, and that's why I have to do my job of being a captain on defense, to make sure everybody is taking care of business. I was telling Datone (Jones) and Akeem (Ayers), Datone you have to take care of the d-line, Akeem you have to make sure the linebackers are all lined up and I'm going to make sure the corners and everybody is lined up. If we make sure we're doing our thing and everybody is on the same page, we'll be fine. I've seen football and I've lost to teams that have nowhere near the talent as us, but they beat us on discipline and playing fast and playing hard. If you get 11 guys playing fast, in their gaps, playing disciplined fundamental football, then you're going to win every game. It's not about who the best players are or who are the fastest guys in the team, it's about those who will go out there and play hard every snap and that's what you want. Execute, every down … every snap.''

Do you sense more guys are getting drawn into that, the work ethic and watching the film?

‘'You know, (Steve) Sloan came up to me, and he's an older cat, he said, ‘Man, I look up to you. I see you every day and you work hard every day. And he said you've got to help get us all together. We need you.' And I told him, you can count on me. I'm going to work hard every day. I'm going to do extra, I'm going to do more than I did last year, I'm going to do more than I've ever done in my life to be able to make plays and get that offense the ball. … I remember DeWayne Walker told me, he said, Rahim, you have a chance to be one of the best or the best safety to ever come out of here and I was very happy about that. That's why I keep working hard and like I said that's what makes you a great player, when you help others and everyone else feeds off your energy.

‘'You know, I'm not a big rah-rah guy, but I go in and give good motivational speeches. Like, you weren't there, but at halftime (of the EagleBank Bowl), I got on everyone's case, I even got on my own case. I said, ‘Guy's, we're not playing the way UCLA Bruins' football plays and after that Temple did not score one touchdown and we started executing.''

That must have been a pretty good speech. Forget scoring a touchdown, Temple in that second half had trouble pushing the ball even a yard …

‘'I remember Neuheisel was talking and I butted in on him, I stopped him from talking. I had to get that off my chest. You know what's funny, the night before and throughout that week, I told myself, ‘I'm going to have to give a speech' and I did. I gave one before the game, I gave one at halftime and I said something after the game. Guys just flipped out. I saw Brian Price crying, he so wanted to knock somebody out. We were all just ready. I just told the guys how I felt and it paid off.''

Getting back to the physical, where do you want to be in the fall? Between your freshman and sophomore years, you out on how many pounds?

‘'Thirty … When I first came in I was 173 and I came into camp at 203 and I felt better than ever.''

OK, well, another 30 and you're going to look like a sportswriter and you don't want that …

‘'Yeah. Right now I'm about 199, 198. I've been maintaining my weight. Next year I'll probably be a good 205, just stronger, faster and quicker. I'm not a guy who has to get all big and bulky. I'm all about lateral movement, quickness, speed and all that, and also just being a fundamentally sound football player. That's my game, that's what I've always been. I see myself as an Ed Reed-type safety, you know, I can hit you when I can and I'm a good tackler to a certain point, but I still have to work on it. I think my ball skills can be even better and I think my overall game needs to be better because each year everybody is trying to go after you. I know next year a lot of teams might stay after me, some guys might pick on me, so I have to mind my Ps and Qs and make sure that my preparation is up to par.

‘'My thing is, the way I train and the way I study, I'm trying to outdo not only every college safety but every safety in this nation. I'm trying to outwork every (defensive back). When I study and I prepare, I'm trying to out-study our opponent's coaching staff. That's my goal and there are times I know the plays before they even break the huddle. I know what teams are trying to do. Some guys look and certain gestures they do, they just show it all and I look at all that stuff. I love this game, this is all I know.''

Watching guys, watching a receiver, a quarterback, that's taking film study to another level …

‘'I heard Peyton Manning say this weekend, ‘You're not going to figure out everything, you've got to go out there and just play.' That's the way I go about it myself, but I want to try to figure out everything. I was told that Payton Manning and Drew Brees, those guys watch eight to 10 hours of film a day. ...''

So, you mentioned Tennessee and the flight there, was it a player who gave you the reads? Was it a receiver? Was it knowing the personnel and formations and what they do out of them?

‘'The quarterback gave me everything. (Jonathan) Crompton was one of those guys, he'd look to his left, he'd look to his right and the third time he looked somewhere that's where he was throwing and I knew it. I forget what defense we were in, but they had a guy in the slot and he looked to that third side and I knew where he was going. We were in a certain defense and he tried to get me to go vertical and I left this guy over here because I knew he was going right there and he threw it right to me.''

The younger guys coming in, do you have a feel for who might step into some of those roles?

‘'I think Isaiah Bowens has a good shot. Patrick Larimore and those guys … David Allen. Those guys will come in and make some plays for us. David Carter is going to step up – we talk all the time, we sit right across from one another in the locker room. Aaron Hester will come in and step up – he's training like a mad man. A lot of other guys are ready. Tony Dye and other guys, Glenn (Love), Sheldon (Price) … he knows with what he went through that he has to step his game up. Everybody knows his role. I know I have to step my game up, too. I have to make sure I'm doing the right thing and make sure I'm giving everybody clues and stuff and try to put everybody in the position to make plays.''

Did you talk to Sheldon much during the season, try to help him out?

‘'Oh, yeah. I roomed up with him a couple of times at the end of the season so I could talk to him and show him some film and help him out. It took him some time to learn, like any freshman. It took me some time to learn and I still don't get it all yet. He's like my little brother. If you watch him he even dresses like me on the field – he's always wearing the yellow tape. I know I'm one of his favorite cats. Me and him go out to dinner a lot. I treat him like a little brother. It's funny I'm only a year older than him. It seems like I'm way older than him, but we're all young, so I'm going to keep working with him.

‘'I actually come to work out with the early group with a lot the freshmen so I can make sure they're on the Ps and Qs and so I can show them how I really get down, so they can say, ‘Man, Rahim really works.' I'm not even supposed to come in with the 5:30 (a.m.) group, but I still come so I can show them how I get in my work, so I can show how it is and how hard work pays off.''

So which is your regular work group?

‘'It's 7, but I get up at 5:30 and go down there, get there and walk around the whole thing making sure everybody is working, motivating everybody. You know me, I'm motivating everybody. I tell them all, ‘Act like you're working, like you're about to go to South Beach … you know, you want your body to be nice and fit for those cute Cubans and Puerto Rican girls.' They're actually like, ‘Man, OK, cool, you know what I'm saying?' Those guys, they think about those cute Cubans and they don't want to be dissed by those fine girls so they want to make sure their bodies are right. That's just something I throw out there. We compete in there, but have fun. This is our life right here. It's not a job, this is our life. It's all we know. So we've got to get after it and have fun with this. I tell the guys to have fun, don't take it personal … have fun. Work hard and act like you're a kid again at Disneyland, just have fun when you're doing those power cleans and all that stuff.''

You want them to follow, to continue to develop that foundation …

‘'A lot of the older guys get the leeway where they can come at 7:30 or 9, depending on what time they have class. I still come early so I can show them how I've been through that stage before. I want them to see that, OK, this is a junior All-American safety and he still comes in with the freshman cats at 6 o'clock in the morning. I did that in the summer. I was working out at 5:30 and I'd go work out with the 3 o'clock group to see how the guys are, talk to them, work, compete with them, push them, so they can feed off that. They see me out there, it's OK, I'm going to go compete with Rahim. That's what makes the game good, that's what makes it fun.''

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