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It's sink or swim for safety Moore

August 18, 2008|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

The two faces of UCLA safety Rahim Moore were on display Saturday.

Moore took a pass away from receiver Marcus Everett for an interception during UCLA's scrimmage.

"Athletically, he can do it," defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker said.

Moore wandered from his assignment during one of the many times a Bruins' quarterback scrambled from the pocket.

"I almost ran on the field and socked him," Walker said.

Freshmen. Can't live with them, can't live without them, or at least this one.

Moore is ticketed to start against Tennessee in the season opener Sept. 1. He is the biggest question in a secondary that needs some answers. With Bret Lockett suspended for the first game, it didn't take Walker hours in the film room to decide Moore was his best option.

But freshmen will be freshmen.

"He's going to have to come on some more these next two weeks," Walker said. "On that one play, fortunately we sacked the QB. If not, it is a wide-open touchdown. It's just little high school mistakes."

As for whether he could accept some freshman-like mistakes, Walker said, "I can't have that in a game."

Moore has been the best of a talented group of freshman defensive backs -- Tony Dye, Aaron Hester and E.J. Woods. He has spent the last two weeks taking an Evelyn Wood speed-reading course on college football.

"The college level is hard," said Moore, who was ranked third nationally among defensive backs by "Not so much the plays, but the players. They are bigger and faster.

"Coach Walker told me straight up, 'Rahim, there is going to be a lot thrown at you. I'm going to be doing a lot of things to you.'

"I've been going through this since I was in the 10th grade. This is not overwhelming, but it is challenging."

He can expect more challenges. Certainly, Tennessee will throw a few at him Sept. 1. The Volunteers are breaking in a quarterback, Jonathan Crompton, but he completed 12 of 18 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown during Tennessee's scrimmage Saturday.

Moore can expect to have a target on his jersey.

"For a young kid, I feel sorry for him because he's all that we got," Walker said. "He's good enough to come through. But we have to try to protect him a little bit and get him through this first game."

Moore won't be one and done. Walker said he would use him as one of three safeties he'll rotate, along with Lockett and Aaron Ware.


Which craft?

Coach Rick Neuheisel said he would like to have a decision on a quarterback done this week, though all indications point to junior Kevin Craft, a community college transfer.

While consistency has been lacking in Craft's performance and the junior tends to rush things at times, Neuheisel said "he's still ahead" after Saturday's scrimmage.

"I'm out there [on the field], I hear what's happening in the huddle," Neuheisel said. "I hear some of the confusions, so I'm closer to it."

"I felt comfortable the whole time," said Craft, who completed eight of 18 passes and had three passes intercepted. "After a couple snaps, I relaxed a little more and got into a rhythm."


Doors close

UCLA's practices will be closed to all but local media, recruits and family members of players beginning Thursday.


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