Earned, Not Given: Keith Moore Follows Keller’s Lead< < Back to
It was a fitting finish to a legendary career as an Ohio Bobcat football star, but it left a gaping hole in Ohio's defense.
Former Ohio linebacker Noah Keller departed as a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl champion. He left Ohio as one of the best linebackers to ever wear the green and white, which raised one question: who would be his replacement?
The early favorite to replace Keller was Keith Moore.
As Keller’s backup, Moore improved throughout the entire season last year and finished the year with 35 tackles, 4 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks. He was also a MAC East Defensive Player of the Week last season.
Even though he had a successful sophomore season, Moore knew that he wouldn’t be just handed the position without a fight. He had to earn it.
“In spring ball, [Ohio head coach Frank Solich] told me, ‘I'm happy and proud with what you did last season, but no one has the starting spot,’” said Moore. “I went into spring ball and camp just acting like I sought to come out to work every day and get my spot back.”
Moore did just that. The middle linebacker entered the season opener as the starter and has 29 total tackles and one fumble recovery through four games.
The way Moore takes on the leadership role and plays the game resembles his mentor. He incorporates a lot of Keller’s mentality on the football field into his game.
"It's along the lines of just knowing your techniques, knowing what everybody's doing, knowing all the pre-snap reads, and just thinking ahead of time what can happen out of that formation,” Moore said. “I try to incorporate that into what I do, and I learned that from [Keller]."
On the field, there are hardly any differences. Off the field, Keller and Moore had a brother-like relationship.
“Me and Noah, we weren't like super-super close. He actually picked on me a lot,” Moore said. “But I did learn stuff from him. He did teach me a lot.
“He taught me, as a Mike linebacker, you have to know what everyone's doing,” Moore elaborated. “Not just the linebackers. You have to know what the D-line is doing. What are your corners doing? What are your safeties doing? I really thought about just trying to get to know every position and understand that.”
Under Moore’s leadership, the Bobcats are ranked 28th in the nation and first in the MAC for total defense.
As they travel to Massachusetts for their week five game, the Bobcats are a perfect 4-0 for the first time since 1976. Massachusetts (0-4) has struggled in its first season in the MAC and FBS, but Ohio will approach the Minutemen like any other opponent.
"It (upsets) happens all the time. There's been a bunch of upsets with teams that take teams lightly. You can't do that. Any given team can beat anybody on any given day,” Moore said. “UMass is in the MAC. We believe the MAC is a great conference, so we're going to approach them just like everyone else.”
As many other Bobcats have said this season, Ohio is taking this season one game at a time.
"One week at a time. We'll keep chipping away,” said Moore.
As the season progresses, the Bobcats continue to work toward an undefeated season. Keller completed his legacy with the Bobcats’ first ever bowl victory. If Moore continues to lead a highly ranked defense to another, he too could solidify his own legacy as a Bobcat.