COLUMBIA, SC (TheBigSpur.com) - One freshman who has started to emerge as the season has progressed is linebacker Skai Moore. He entered the year as the second-team weakside linebacker behind Marcquis Roberts and that's where he still sits entering this weekend's game against Tennessee.
Even though he hasn't leapfrogged Roberts into the starting position, Moore has had his field repetitions increase in recent weeks and he is pushing for tops on the depth chart. He was the team's leading tackler in the 52-7 victory over Arkansas last Saturday but suffered a mild concussion on the very last play of the game.
Moore hit his head trying to make a tackle on the knee of one of his teammates. It was just another example of the Fort Lauderdale, Fla. native's drive to make every play possible regardless of the game's situation.
"You're out there giving it your all every play," Moore said. "It's just an unfortunate thing that happened. It's just football and things are going to happen. You just have to get through it."
Moore hasn't practiced yet this week for the Gamecocks (5-1, 3-1), which travel to Knoxville, Tenn. this weekend for the second game of a three-game road swing to finish off the month of October.
Even though he's pushing for more playing time at the WILL position, he knows that he has to be on the field in practice to be able to perform up to a starter's level.
"It's always good to be prepared and get reps," Moore said. "I don't feel like I could go out there and not practice all week and play. I definitely need to get some reps."
Moore could return to the field for Wednesday's practice at 4:15 p.m. at the Proving Grounds. He will try to get back into the swing of things on defense and build upon what was probably the best game of his career last Saturday.
"I think I did pretty well," Moore said. "I executed on my assignments, was where I was supposed to be and ran to the ball."
In six games played so far this season, Moore is fourth on the team with 24 tackles. He has also chipped in 2.5 tackles for a loss of yards, which includes a half sack of the quarterback.
His reps are increasing on Saturdays and that should continue, assuming he can recover from his concussion and get back on the practice field this week. He needs to keep advancing and pushing for that starting position.
"Just learning the plays, really," Moore said, when asked about where he's improved the most from the first game until now. "That and getting adjusted to the speed and the scheme."
Moore and the Gamecocks take on Tennessee this Saturday at noon. The game will be televised on ESPN.