September 3, 2008

Moffitt handles move to center

MADISON, Wis. - One game into his career as the new center for the University of Wisconsin football team, John Moffitt claims the transition has been "smooth" for him.

A season ago, the redshirt freshman was busy getting his feet wet in eight games including a start in the Outback Bowl at left guard.

Finally, after the graduation of former center Marcus Coleman, the Connecticut native was moved over to the position where he handled the duties of snapping the ball to new quarterback Allan Evridge against Akron in the season opener.

"Granted it wasn't a perfect game," the 6-foot-4, 323-pound center said. "I didn't grade out perfect or anything like that and the best thing is coming into film and here's what you have to work on after you get that first game behind you."

"But I felt good, I didn't have any critical errors and I thought I was on most of my blocks, so it felt good."

Perhaps the single most underappreciated and taken for granted moment of any specific play is the center-quarterback exchange. Many times with a new center, the quarterback has to adjust to the speed and force the center enforces while bringing the ball to his hand.

An example of how a bad snap is costly occurred in the very same game. Late in the fourth quarter backup quarterback Scott Tolzien fumbled the snap from backup center Bill Nagy. The Zips recovered the fumble and turned it into a touchdown.

Thus, the recognition that Evridge and Moffitt were virtually flawless in that regard is encouraging as the season progresses.

"The fact that there were no center quarterback exchange issues," Bielema said. "A lot of times in early games, even though Allan had been working as the number one with Moff throughout the whole deal, you are always concerned about that."

Moffitt backed up his coaches thoughts when asked about the exchange process.

"At first it's hard to even learn how to hold the ball, snap it and then block a guy, hard to get used to the mental things," Moffitt said. "We had some problems with that (snap exchange) a couple weeks before.

"The nice thing is everything is smooth, it went smooth. I think the week before practice was a good week, that's the last thing you want to do as a center is have your quarterback drop the ball or have a bad snap because turnovers can end a game."

Surely one game is too soon to evaluate the impact a player has on a offensive unit, but Moffitt was part of an offensive line that helped open holes for the running backs to rumble for over 400 yards against Akron following 63 attempts.

Because individual statistics outside of pancakes are non-existent on the offensive line, the big men up front take pride when their running backs treat them to an offensive explosion throughout a game. On the other hand, this offensive line does not want that confidence to turn into complacency following just one great game.

"I don't think we want to settle," Moffitt said. "Obviously 400 yards is something…but I think we saw things that stuck out that we need to work on and I don't think we're satisfied.

"I think that we're still striving to continue to be better, to gel better, to get better as a whole."

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