Last season’s juniors are now this season’s seniors, and with that comes extra responsibility and expectations. In the ACC, while there were plenty of players selected in the NFL Draft, the conference still returns a strong group of seniors — many of whom are set to make a strong impact in their final seasons of eligibility.
Over these few weeks, we’re going team-by-team in the ACC to identify the “standout senior” that’s key to his respective squad, and why he’s so important. Think we should’ve featured another player, though? Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments.
We’ll get this out of the way first: With the news today that Phillip Sims is no longer enrolled at Virginia, Moses’s job does get a bit harder, as there’s no established passer for the UVa offense. But that said, Sims was not the end-all, be-all of the Hoos attack. He simply had the most in-game experience. There will be a learning curve for whichever of David Watford or Greyson Lambert wins the starting job now, but that’s why Moses is so important. As the quarterback situation figures itself out, the Hoos will largely be relying on the running game.
Physically, Moses is just an imposing individual. Standing at 6’6″ and 325 pounds, he’s the type of O-line prospect pro scouts would kill for, and he’s making strides to increase his speed as well. In the meantime though, the weight loss he underwent last year (dropped 20 pounds prior to his junior year) put him at a disadvantage at times, as he’d get manhandled by larger defenders. This was addressed as the 2012 season went on, but without another anchor on the line like Oday Aboushi, the onus will be entirely on Moses for the first time.
And without playing a game this year, he appears off to a strong start. Phil Steele named him first-team All-ACC yesterday, he captained the blue team at the Hoos’ spring game and has impressed coaches with the work he’s willing to put in as a leader on this team. But results-wise, he’ll have his work cut out for him as Virginia tries to resurrect its running game. After finishing 53rd in the nation in 2011 with 162 yards per game, UVa fell to 98th last year, with just under 128 per game. As starting back Kevin Parks looks to take advantage of his new, more-featured role, he’s got to have a competent offensive line in front of him in order to succeed.
There’s a lot on the line for Moses this season, as he must live up to lofty expectations and position himself for what should be a high draft pick in April 2014, given a solid senior performance. With an offense that will likely be in flux until at least early August, Virginia needs him as the rock of this mostly young unit. Whether he’s up for it or not could largely decide whether this team sinks or swims in 2013.