In a league brimming with outstanding pass-rushers, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore has burst onto the scene and been as disruptive as anybody through the first month of the season.
To be clear, he’s not new to college football. He’s just new to the SEC and has quickly established himself as one of the league’s premier defenders.
Moore, a 6-foot-4, 250-pound junior defensive end, leads the SEC with six sacks and eight tackles for loss, and he’s only played in three games.
Last season, he led the Aggies with 17.5 tackles for loss and was second on the team with 8.5 sacks.
First-year Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said Moore’s consistency is what has been most impressive this season. He’s staying on the field for more plays. He’s been as good against the run as he has been against the pass, and he’s matured as both a football player and as a person.
We caught up with Moore earlier this week for a Q&A:
How much is the team looking forward to getting back into SEC play after the tough loss to Florida three weeks ago?
Damontre Moore: We’re fired up about it and ready to get back into the meat of our schedule and make a statement in this conference. We’re definitely going to be ready for this game. We played OK against Florida, but that was our first game. We didn’t get to play our first game (against Louisiana Tech), and now that we’ve got the first SEC game under our belts and have been playing the last couple of weeks, I feel like we’ve got the rust knocked off. Any questions that we had, I think we’ve gotten those fixed. We’re just ready to come in and prove what kind of football team we are.
What kind of fit has the 4-3 scheme been for you after playing a hybrid role in the 3-4 last season?
DM: It’s been good for me, but there are still certain things I like about the 3-4 and that hybrid position. I feel like both defenses are good for me, and as long as I’m able to make plays and help the team out, I’m good with whatever scheme we’re in.
Where does this defense still need to improve the most?
DM: Tackling and cutting down on the penalties are the top two areas, but we’re constantly improving. We had too many penalties in the first two games and we came back and cut them down. Overall, it’s studying more and getting a better feel for the scheme we have now and learning from our mistakes.
Coach Sumlin says you have matured in all facets of your life. How has that helped you?
DM: I’ve had a lot of stuff happen in my life and a lot of people in my life who’ve helped me improve as a man and as a football player. I have the coaches, Von (Miller), his dad and my dad who help me football-wise, and my mom, my granny and Von’s mom who’ve helped me off the field and in life aspects. Also, Mrs. Lee, my learning assistant, reminds me every day what I need to do to be a better person and better human being. That’s helped me transition that over into football and take that next step.
How often do you talk to Von?
DM: When he’s free or at home, I talk to him as much as I can. We always have a serious talk about what I have to do to reach all of my goals. He’s always there for me and talks to my mom, and my mom relays messages. His mom and my mom are best friends, and I constantly have them in my ear. It’s teamwork. It’s not just him. It’s my parents, his parents. I don’t have a lot of room to mess up.
How confident are you that your best football is ahead of you?
DM: I don’t want to get complacent. Every day is a new day to get better. You can reach new goals and new heights as long as you learn from mistakes. I feel like I’ve got a lot of growing left in me.
DM: Honestly, I try not to pay attention to any of that. You’d love to be considered in that category, but I guess that’s up to the analysts and the coaches and everybody else. All I know is that I’m going to do what my coach says, keep working to get better and let everything take care of itself. The way I judge all that is by how my team’s doing, not how many sacks I have or where I’m ranked. If I’m privileged one day to be included in that list with all the great defensive ends and outside linebackers, that will be a huge honor.
Given the way Arkansas came from way behind and beat you guys last season, how much are you looking forward to the Hogs’ visit?
DM: There’s a bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away. At the same time, it’s another opponent in this conference, and we’re looking to making a statement with every opponent we play in this conference.
What has Coach Sumlin’s stamp on the program been?
DM: He’s brought a new energy and a new swagger to the team. He helped us create a new identity and wants us to keep that identity, which isn’t worrying about other people, but worrying about us. If we do that, I think we’ll all be happy with the end results here.
Were too many people sleeping on Texas A&M to begin this season?
DM: A lot of people were, but we try not to pay too much attention to the media. You can’t help but hear certain things, and we do use that as motivation because we know how good we can be. The sky’s the limit for this team, and we’ve always known that. But hearing others doubt whether you’re even going to be able to compete in this conference does help give you an edge.