Thursday, January 1, 2009

Player Anatomy: DT Fili Moala, USC

Character / Leadership Ability: Although Moala isn't incredibly vocal, he is considered by coaches to be the leader of the defensive line. He was arrested in March of 2008 for obstructing an officer after a fight but no charges were filed. No other character problems.

Competitive Nature / Work Ethic:
Entered college very overweight and has worked hard to trim down. He is a strong competitor which sometimes gets overlooked due to the array of talent and fellow competitors around him at USC.

Football Intelligence:
Will be a four-year starter by the time his career is over. Quickly picked up USC's pressure-based defense.

Size: Exceptional size for the position. Solid build. Good muscle mass. Frame can handle 10-15 more pounds. Lanky. Needs to get stronger.

Athletic Ability:
Needs to continue working on being more flexible, which will improve his pass rush skills.

Toughness / Durability: Has been durable throughout his career, but has had some minor injuries.

Quickness: Has only average quickness, particularly against the pass. Decent off the snap, but he doesn't have the speed to chase down a quarterback or running back.

Strength: For a player of his build, Moala doesn't have as much strength as you'd expect, but it's still good enough to hold up against the run.

Instincts / Recognition: Great recognition skills, which come from being a career starter on the defensive line. Knows where the ball is going and is quick to react.

Pass Rush: Doesn't make a lot of impact plays against the pass. Lacks pass
rush moves. Relies only on his initial quickness and power off the snap.

Pursuit: While he works hard in pursuit, Moala has very little speed to chase down the ball carrier over a distance. Has to rely on his intelligence to quickly diagnose and make a play on the ball.

Run Defending: Uses his size to collapse running lanes between the tackles. Can handle double teams.

Tackling: Solid wrap-up tackler. Has the strength to hold on to finish off tackles.

Technique / Leverage: Plays too upright and loses leverage. Does a pretty good job of keeping a wide base to anchor. Needs to use his hands better to shed blocks.

Photo Credit: Dan Avila