Growing up in Texas, Emmanuel Moody wasn’t ever emerged in the Florida-Florida State rivalry. When he signed with Southern Cal out of high school, he never imagined playing in it. However, transferring to Florida put him right in the center of the rivalry in 2008. He now sees the importance of every rivalry to the Florida fan base.
“I didn’t know much about the Southeastern Conference,” Emmanuel Moody said of his time growing up in Texas. “I didn’t know all the rivalries. I knew about the rivalry of Florida State-Florida, but I didn’t know there were rivalries with every other team in the SEC. We know the magnitude of this rivalry and how important it is to us. We want to keep this tradition going on.”
The frustration has now been focused on Moody not seeing much time on the field. His productivity has dipped in recent weeks, despite the senior claiming to be fully healthy.
In the last four games, Moody has 18 carries for 103 yards. Health isn’t the issue. Jeff Demps and Mike Gillislee have been banged up, but Moody is finally healthy. He just isn’t getting the carries. The early-season injuries sent Moody dropping down the depth chart.
“If I haven’t learned by now, I’ll never learn,” Moody said. “Injuries are part of the game. When we’re healthy, we just try to help the team out as much as we can. For the younger guys, it’s hard on them because they haven’t understood yet. They have these personal goals, but then an injury takes you out for half the season, and it’s disappointing.”
Moody’s numbers this year aren’t in line with the way he wanted his senior season to go. The team’s record isn’t either. He has run the ball 66 times for 265 yards this year.
The season hasn’t been ideal in any way for Moody, but this Saturday’s game does offer a chance for it to improve.
“I don’t care about statistics,” Moody said. “My statistics this year aren’t that great, why stress now? I’m just ready to finish this year out as a team and hopefully beat Florida State, then make a good bowl.”
After the bowl game, Moody’s attention turns to the NFL. He will graduate in December and begin training for any NFL workouts he can attend.
“That’s my dream ever since playing and watching football,” Moody said. “I’m going to take football as far as it can go.”
His career statistics at Florida won’t look great as he attempts to play in the NFL, but Moody is prepared to overcome it. He hasn’t gotten consistent touches out of the backfield, mostly because of injury, but the senior does think the lack of touches has hurt his stock for the NFL.
“There’s no doubt it has hurt that,” Moody said. “That’s just the obvious. I just believe when I’m healthy, everything else can take care of itself.”
The Florida offense hasn’t put up the big numbers they expected coming into the season. The plan was for quarterback John Brantley to throw the ball all over the field while the running backs provided a threat up the middle.
Instead, the offense has sputtered.
Injuries have hurt the playmakers to the offense, and Brantley has been under heat since taking his first snap this season. Moody doesn’t blame the quarterback, but he does believe the teammates around him could have done a better job.
“I see a lot of guys getting down on Johnny, but it’s a team game,” Moody said. “The offensive line has to protect him, the running backs have to make plays in the run game and the receivers have to get open. We can’t just focus on one player and think he’s bad because of the statistics. We have to see it as a whole and see what everyone on the field is doing.”
Brantley has handled the criticism quietly. He has been a leader for a team that needs one, and Moody respects him more for it.
“That’s the beast of the position,” Moody said. “When you’re the captain or the leader, you take the blame. Johnny has been handling it really well. He’s been frustrated.”
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