Stafford & Moreno Celebrate
Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush were partners in glitz, winning their Heismans and gadding about L.A. and being seen with women famous for being famous. The best collegiate backfield tandem since Leinart/Bush acts rather less impressed with itself. Indeed, Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno aren’t impressed by much of anything.
They sat side by side at Georgia’s media convocation Monday, facing separate semicircles of questioners. Every so often they’d glance over at one another, and Stafford would roll his eyes and Moreno would poke the quarterback’s arm, and on it went, two young men reluctantly stoking the star-making machinery while sharing a private joke.
They arrived in the same recruiting class, Stafford to considerably more acclaim, and they’ve been buddies ever since. Stafford was the center of attention as a true freshman and bore much criticism during Georgia’s worst month under Mark Richt. Moreno redshirted in 2006 and didn’t really arrive until the seventh game of last season, but now he’s the one reaping the publicity whirlwind, whose photo USA Today chose to illustrate Georgia’s selection as No. 1 in its coaches poll a week ago.
Not that the subject much cared. “I said, ‘Cool,’ and didn’t really think about it after that,” Moreno said. Nor did he rush out and buy five copies for his mother. “I’m broke,” he said, laughing. “I can’t spend 75 cents.”
A big-name quarterback who was a big-time recruit in a big market like Dallas, Stafford learned long ago to give polite and polished answers without volunteering anything more. Moreno regards the press with a skepticism bordering on disdain. (David Pollack had the same sort of attitude.) This isn’t the greatest news for those of us seeking pithy quotes, but it serves to further the concept of team harmony.
Both Stafford and Moreno take pains not to paint themselves as special. Given every opportunity to say, “Yeah, I’m the Big Dawg now,” Moreno spent media day dismissing the notion. “We have a lot of backs,” he said. “We have a lot of receivers. And Matt Stafford can throw the ball as well as anyone.”
Moreno enables Stafford, who threw 13 interceptions as a harried freshman, to work at a more measured pace. Stafford clears room for Moreno’s whirling excursions by stretching the field with deep throws. USC won two national championships with Leinart doing the same for Bush, and vice versa.
Georgia stands a good chance of winning this national championship because of this similarly symbiotic relationship.
Said Stafford, speaking to the AJC’s Chip Towers on Wednesday: “We have fun together. We don’t go out there thinking, ‘Ah, man — I’ve got to try to win this game.’ We know we have a ton of tools. It’s not just us two. There are guys all around us that can help us out.”
They get along famously off the field, and they augment one another on it. One’s from Texas and one’s from the Springsteen side of scenic New Jersey, and together they’re the most perfectly matched set of Bulldogs since Flatfoot Frank Sinkwich and Charley Trippi, two non-Georgians who in 1942 brought the Red & Black its first consensus national title.
Those hallowed names, you should know, aren’t apt to register with these latter-day touchdown twins. As Stafford told Towers: “As far as the history of Georgia football, I don’t know it and Knowshon doesn’t, either. We just sit there and nod our heads and smile.”
– Courtesy of AJC.com