T.J. Moe, who’s led Missouri in receiving each of the past two seasons, is like most in the Show Me State.
He knows making the jump to the SEC will be an adjustment for the Tigers. How much of an adjustment remains to be seen.
He’s sure eager to find out.
Moe, a rising senior who grew up just outside St. Louis, took some time this week to discuss Missouri’s move to the SEC and what it means for both sides.
Were you a big college football fan growing up, and do you have any memories of the SEC?
T.J. Moe: I wasn’t a big college fan until I got to high school. When I was growing up, I was a Rams fan. They were winning Super Bowls, and my family had season tickets. Brad Smith is the one who lifted Missouri off the ground and made them exciting to watch. I don’t even think I went to a Missouri game until my sophomore year of high school. I really didn’t know much at all about the SEC growing up. I knew SEC schools were good. I just wasn’t exposed to them a whole lot because I was watching Missouri and the Big 12.
How big of a step do you think it will be for Missouri in the SEC?
TJM: I think it’s going to be a rigorous transition because of the bottom teams in the SEC. They’re basically what the mid-tier teams were in the Big 12. The top teams in the Big 12 are every bit as good as the top teams in the SEC. But we get to play Kansas every year in the Big 12, and there’s no Kansas in the SEC. It’s almost like you have off weeks in the Big 12. You can’t say that about the SEC. You have to bring your “A” game every week.
Are you ready for the brand of defense they play in the SEC, and how will that affect you?
TJM: Offensively, I don’t think we have to change a thing. They have to cater to what we do. We have top athletes and pass-rushers in the Big 12, so we’re used to that. At the same time, there aren’t a lot of offenses in the SEC that do what we do.
What about the adjustment on defense?
TJM: The big change for the defense is that we’re used to playing against the Colt McCoys and Brandon Weedens, the top quarterbacks. Now, we’re going to be playing against the Trent Richardsons of the world instead.
Do you buy the theory that what separates the SEC from other conferences is the quality, depth and athleticism in the defensive line?
TJM: It’s not like we didn’t have big guys who were athletic and could run in the Big 12 on the defensive line. We had some of those guys on our team, guys like Jacquies Smith, Brad Madison and Dominique Hamilton. So we have big, fast athletes on the defensive line, too. The difference might be that the SEC has a first, second and third string of those guys, and we might only have a first and maybe a second string of those guys.
What’s been the general reaction of your teammates about starting play this coming season in the SEC?
TJM: Everybody is excited. There aren’t a lot of players who can say they played in two conferences. I’ve been asked almost every day for 10 months about what I thought it would be like playing in the SEC. I’ll finally be able to answer that question after this season. I know a lot of people say that the SEC is the dominant conference, and I think that’s debatable. Yes, they’ve won six straight national championships. But if Colt McCoy doesn’t get hurt so early (against Alabama in 2009), Texas wins that game and maybe wins it handily. And this year, Oklahoma State didn't even get the opportunity to play in the game. What I do know is that you have to bring it week in and week out in the SEC.
What are you most looking forward to about the whole SEC experience?
TJM: Just seeing all the different stadiums and campuses. It’s similar to high school football in the state of Texas. All they do in Texas is play football. You never hear about anything else. That’s sort of the like the SEC. Kentucky is about the only school known for basketball. I couldn’t name a Georgia basketball player in the last 50 years, but I could name a bunch of Georgia football players.
What are you going to miss most about the Big 12?
TJM: Beating up on Kansas every year and the fact that I never got a chance to beat Nebraska. You make friendships with some of the other players around the league. I’ll miss that, too. But I’m more excited to be going to the SEC than I am upset that we’re leaving the Big 12.
Who do you think will be Missouri’s big rival in the SEC?
TJM: It has to be Arkansas. People around here do not like Arkansas, and the people in Arkansas aren’t real happy about Dorial (Green-Beckham’s) decision. He’s getting a lot of hate mail from them. But it’s more than that. People here just don’t like Arkansas, and I don’t think they’re real fond of us, either. The only thing I really know about Arkansas is when Missouri beat them by 30 points (38-7) in the (2008) Cotton Bowl.