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Fili Moala

Height: 6-4 | Weight: 305 | College: Southern California
 
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Overview

Statistics do not always tell the true value a player brings to a team, and Moala is a perfect example. Much of the success of the Trojans' defense over the past three years has been because of their linebackers having free reign to constantly blitz the opposition's backfield. In order for USC to accomplish that feat as well as it has, the Trojans needed a dominating force to control the middle of the field. Much like his cousin, former Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (2002-05), now with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens, Moala more than capably filled that role.

When one examines the Moala's college career, they should not look at 90 tackles in 52 games. What numbers really tell the true story is the progression of the defense in the national rankings with Moala starting.

During his freshman season as a reserve, the Trojans ranked 31st in the nation in rush defense (130.54 ypg), 48th in total defense (360.92 ypg) and 35th in scoring defense (22.85 ppg). In his first year as a starter, USC improved to ninth in the nation vs. the run (91.08 ypg), 20th in total defense (295.85 ypg) and 11th in scoring defense (15.15 ppg). As a junior, USC continued to move up the national charts, finishing fourth vs. the run (84.15 ypg), second in total defense (273.15 ypg) and second in scoring defense (16.0 ppg) in 2007.

In his final season, the Trojans allowed just 87.38 yards per game on the ground (fifth in the NCAA), ranking second in the country in total defense (221.77 ypg) while leading the major colleges in scoring defense (9.0 ppg). Coach Pete Carroll recently said, "Fili is difficult to block. Plus, the experience and leadership he brings is really valuable."

At Western High School, an early-season foot ligament injury sidelined Moala for all but two of his senior season games. He still earned 2002 Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Tom Lemming All-West and Tacoma News Tribune Western 100 honors as a two-way lineman. As a junior, he was named All-CIF Division IX and All-League while posting 60 tackles and four sacks.

Moala originally signed with Southern California in 2003, but did not qualify for admission. He attended Cypress (Calif.) Junior College that semester as a part-time student (did not play football there). He joined the Trojans in 2004, where he was named their Service Team Defensive Player of the Year, retaining freshman eligibility.

In 2006, Moala started three early-season games at nose guard for an injured Sedrick Ellis. He later shifted to weak-side defensive tackle, starting the final seven contests. He earned Sophomore All-American and All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention, posting 20 tackles (10 solos) with 2.5 sacks, seven stops for losses and four pass deflections.

Moala started all 13 games at weak-side tackle during his junior campaign. He was a first-team All-Pac 10 Conference choice. He missed a good portion of spring drills with a left ankle sprain, but was fully recovered by the season opener. He went on to register a career-high 32 tackles (14 solos) that included 2.5 sacks and 5.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Moala received All-American recognition, in addition to picking up first-team All-Pac 10 and team Defensive Lineman of the Year honors. The Senior Bowl invitee started all 13 games, ending his career with a sting of 33 consecutive starts. He delivered 30 tackles (16 solos) with a career-high 10 stops for losses, including 4.5 sacks. He also caused a fumble and blocked a pair of kicks.

Analysis

Positives: Moala lacks sudden closing speed, but shows good lateral quickness and above average footwork, along with the agility and balance to change direction and flow down the line. He is strong on the inside gap charge and can dominate with his hand swipes. He has a nice combination of power and quickness to stack and shed. Moala might lack sprinter's legs in pursuit, but shows good body control working in space. He is a normal-to-short strider who has a good short burst to gain penetration. He still looks lanky, despite being 300 pounds and has the frame to carry at least another 20-25 pounds of additional bulk. He is quick to recognize blocking schemes and locate the ball.

Negatives: He needs to improve his overall strength and hand usage. He lacks the foot speed to make opposite field tackles, but shows relentlessness in his play and will make the second effort when his initial move fails. He just needs to play under better control, as he does get frustrated when stood up by the blockers, but that is his own fault, as he will get too tall at times and lose leverage. He will need to add bulk and strength to compete at the next level, but does respond well to hard coaching.

Compares To: BARRY COFIELD, New York Giants -- Like Cofield, Moala can't be judged on personal statistics, but needs to be reviewed based on the success of the team because he is a classic mauler in the middle of the field. His constant double-team battles led to USC's linebackers having great success being freed to wreak havoc in the backfield. He is quick to get position, redirect and extend his arms to stalk, wrap and secure the ball carrier in run containment. He reminds a lot of the Cofield because of his lateral agility, change of direction and dominance when he slides down and plays over the center. He still needs some technique refinement, but if he can improve his overall strength base, he will be a solid supporting role player for a defense looking for someone to handle the inside trash.

Scouting Report

GENERAL REPORT: GRADE:

Body Structure: Moala has a good-sized frame with solid bone structure. He has a barrel chest, long, muscular arms, thick thighs and calves, wide waist and hips. He still looks lanky, despite being 300 pounds and has the frame to carry at least another 20-25 pounds of additional bulk.

Athletic Ability: Moala lacks sudden closing speed, but shows good lateral quickness and above average footwork, along with the agility and balance to change direction and flow down the line. He is strong on the inside gap charge and can dominate with his hand swipes. He has a nice combination of power and quickness to stack and shed. Moala might lack sprinter's legs in pursuit, but shows good body control working in space. He is a normal-to-short strider who has a good short burst to gain penetration. GRADE: 6.7

Football Sense: Moala struggled to qualify academically, but has average intelligence. He might not be a quick learner, but will grasp the play after several reps. He is quick to recognize blocking schemes and locate the ball. He picks up plays easily and is sharp spotting traps and pulls. GRADE: 6.0

Character: Moala is a likable sort who comes from a supportive family. He has a good relationship with his father, a former heavyweight boxer and also with his cousin, Baltimore defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, whose style many scouts feels that he patterns. He was arrested in March, 2008 at a bar fight, but charges were later dropped (not involved, but ran away from the incident and police arrested him in the bedlam that ensued). GRADE: 5.5

Competitiveness: Moala is no gentle giant, as he plays with very good toughness. Little nicks, cuts and bruises fail to phase him and it is hard for the coaches to convince him to leave the field when he gets banged up. He needs to improve his overall strength and hand usage, but is a physical athlete who plays with a high motor. He is athletic on the move and gives his best effort all the time. He lacks the foot speed to make opposite field tackles, but shows relentlessness in his play and will make the second effort when his initial move fails. GRADE: 6.4

Work Habits: Moala plays hard and is a good worker in the weight room. He has a good motor and attitude that indicates he will do whatever it takes to make the play. He just needs to play under better control, as he does get frustrated when stood up by the blockers, but that is his own fault, as he will get too tall at times and lose leverage. He shows enthusiasm on the field and is very easy to coach. He will need to add bulk and strength to compete at the next level, but does respond well to hard coaching. GRADE: 5.8

ATHLETIC REPORT: GRADE: 6.31

Explosion/Pursuit: Moala is not a pass rusher, as he lacks explosion off the snap and appears too slow to give long chase throughout the backfield. He is light on his feet working down the line and quick to deliver a blow, but is best when tying up blockers and clogging the rush lanes. Despite his tall frame, he knows how to hunker down and stay low in his pads. He has a functional short-area burst and his wide base and hand punch allows him to gain advantage out of his start. He also shows good body control working down the line, but is not the type that you want running long distances. He gets most of his success behind the line of scrimmage with his ability by angling and slicing to the play. GRADE: 5.5

Strength at Point: When Moala keeps his pads down, he can be very effective at making plays at the point of attack. He is not easily moved out when he plays at a low pad level, but can be rooted out when he gets too tall in his stance, as he leaves his chest exposed, struggling to shed those blocks. He also has a nasty habit of turning his back on the blocker, losing sight of the ball as he is ridden wide from the play. He is strong enough to dominate up front when he plays with a wide base and has the ability to win battles vs. double teams. He made very good improvement in 2008 in using his hands more effectively to keep blockers off his feet. He just needs to improve his upper body strength to fight through a double team. When he sinks his weight, he is capable of holding his ground to stack, as he splits and redirects with leverage, doing this much better in 2008 now that he learned to stay lower in his pads (used to get too high, resulting in guards getting their hands into his body). He flashes marginal explosion to penetrate, but was asked to play more of a run containment role during his career. He has enough strength in his arms and hands to create separation, stuff and shed, while also showing the nimble feet to adjust laterally, but that is negated when he gets his hands outside his framework, exposing his body to the block. GRADE: 6.1

Use of Hands: The thing you notice on film is that he has now developed the technique needed to use a swim or club move with efficiency. Moala gets a good reach coming off the snap and is quick to shed. When he stays low in his pads and keeps his hands active, he can dominate, shed and keep blockers away from his legs. He hits with authority to jolt and control at the point of attack. While he has explosive hands, he can get even better once he fills out and develops more strength. When he gets too tall in his stance, it is as if he forgets to use good technique and will let blockers get into his body. GRADE: 6.2

Lateral Pursuit/Effort: For a player his size, Moala is quite nimble working down the line. He runs well for a player his size, but only in the short area. His change of direction agility allows him to move down the line of scrimmage and cause problems. GRADE: 6.8

Tackling Ability: Moala is strong enough shooting his hands to hit with authority, but could use more overall strength. When he locks on to a ball carrier, they are not going to get away. He is a powerful tackler who will explode into a blocker, but you know he is going to get even better once he puts on more bulk. He is a productive wrap-up tackler who will strike with consistency. GRADE: 6.4

Run Defense: Moala is aggressive shooting his hands when working to get leverage. With his large hands, he does a nice job of grabbing and shoving the lineman out of the way. He is effective parking in the gaps, staying low in his pads and clogging the rush lane by neutralizing the lead blocker. He has enough short-area quickness to chase down the runner in the backfield. When he gets tall in his stance, he struggles to disengage, reverting to turning his back on the blocker (needs to develop a better spin move). He plays with good balance and body control and has shown the ability to fight through double teams. At Southern California, you'd wish they would let him attack the backfield more, but with a slew of edge rushers on their roster in 2008 the Trojans thought it was best to use him to take out the trash (constant double teams) and let the smaller replacements on the defensive line attack on the perimeter. When they shift him from weak-side tackle to the nose, they unleashed him more often, resulting in quite a few scoring drives being thwarted. He still gets a little high in his stance at times and when this happens, he ends up exposing his chest. GRADE: 7.6

Pass Rush: Moala does not finish well on his pocket attacks, evident by having just one QB pressure in 38 starting assignments. He has the hand strength to pull and jerk the blocker and gets some push and penetration shooting the gap as a bull rusher, but when he gets tall in his stance he struggles to shed or squeeze the pocket. He shows quickness and power, doing a very good job of getting inside and outside the blocker's frame with his hands. He shows just minimal promise as a pass rusher, as he relies too much on club and rip moves and needs to develop another move while also refining his technique (will take a few swipes that miss). He is good to disengage coming off his second effort, but could be even better here once he adds more bulk and has his role better defined. While he played weak-side tackle most of his career, he showed much better arm-over action coming off the nose guard position. GRADE: 5.8

Closing on the QB: Moala lacks the sudden burst to close and has just adequate speed to chase down from the back side. He separates in the open with an efficient surge and with his size and active hands, is almost impossible to block one-on-one once he gets a bead on the quarterback. The Trojan system calls for him to play more of a containment role, but in games they took the leash off him he caused havoc in the opposing backfield. GRADE: 5.7

Instincts/Recognition: Before 2008, Moala played mostly on his instincts and natural ability. Thrust into a leadership role as a senior, he took on more responsibility calling assignments on the front wall. He has no problems flowing to the ball, whether in passing or running situations. He plays with good alertness and showed improved ability to read and react to traps, pulls and play-action than he did earlier in his career. GRADE: 6.7

Compares To: BARRY COFIELD, New York Giants -- Like Cofield, Moala can't be judged on personal statistics, but needs to be reviewed based on the success of the team because he is a classic mauler in the middle of the field. His constant double-team battles led to USC's linebackers having great success being freed to wreak havoc in the backfield. He is quick to get position, redirect and extend his arms to stalk, wrap and secure the ball carrier in run containment. He reminds a lot of the Cofield because of his lateral agility, change of direction and dominance when he slides down and plays over the center. He still needs some technique refinement, but if he can improve his overall strength base, he will be a solid supporting role player for a defense looking for someone to handle the inside trash.

OVERALL GRADE: 6.27

--Report by Dave-Te' Thomas

Career Notes

Moala started 38 of 52 games at Southern California, including his last 33 contests … Made 90 tackles (46 solos) with 9.5 sacks for minus 56 yards and 23.5 stops for losses totaling 79 yards … Recovered two fumbles, deflected five passes and blocked a pair of kicks … With Moala in the starting lineup, the Trojans held the opposition to an average of 87.54 yards rushing and 263.59 yards in total offense per game, as the team finished in the top five in rush defense and top two in total defense and scoring defense (led in 2008) the last two seasons … Moala tied a school, conference and NCAA record for most blocked field goals in a game and also in a quarter, preventing 29- and 48-yard attempts in the third quarter of the 2008 Arizona State game, matching a mark first set by Southern Cal's Jerald Henry vs. California on Oct. 22, 1994 (first was returned first one 60 yards for touchdown) and also by Pat Larson of Wyoming vs. Fresno State (1995).

2008 Season

All-American first-team choice by The NFL Draft Report, earning second-team honors from The Sporting News and third-team accolades from College Football News and Rivals.com, in addition to being selected to the All-Pac 10 Conference first-team … Recipient of the Trojan's Defensive Lineman of the Year Award … Started all thirteen games at weak-side defensive tackle, leading a unit that ranked fifth in the nation in rush defense (87.38 ypg), placed second in total defense (221.77 ypg) and paced the major college ranks in scoring defense (9.00 ppg) … Recorded 30 tackles (16 solos), producing career-highs with 4.5 sacks for minus 32 yards and ten stops for losses of 41 yards … Registered one quarterback pressure, caused one fumble and deflected a pass … Also blocked a pair of kicks.

2008 Game Analysis

Ohio State … Moala produced four tackles, including a sack, as the Trojans held the heralded Buckeyes ground game to 71 yards on 34 carries (2.09 ypc) and allowed OSU to register only six first downs in downing the Big Ten team, 35-3 … In the third quarter, he forced an OSU punt after sacking QB Todd Boeckman for a 4-yard loss on a third-&-6 snap … Head to Head Competition: OG#71-Steve Rehring (6:07-335).

Oregon State … Moala opened the Pac-10 season with five tackles, assisting on a sack, as he also had three stops behind the line of scrimmage … His third-&-7 sack of QB Lyle Moevao brought out the OSU punting unit midway through the first quarter … On the first drive of the second half, tailback Jacquizz Rodgers was crushed by the USC defensive tackle for a 4-yard loss on a rushing attempt … Head to Head Competition: OG#51-Adam Speer (6:03-301).

Oregon … The weak-side tackle produced another five tackles, including one that stopped tailback Jeremiah Johnson for no gain on a third-&-1 run, forcing Oregon to punt late in the third stanza … The Trojans limited the Beavers to 60 yards and five first downs on 39 carries (1.54 ypc) … Head to Head Competition: OG#51-Jeff Kendall (6:03-297).

Arizona State … Few ever saw Moala display his leaping ability like he did vs. the Sun Devils. Pressed into action on the field goal coverage unit, he tied an NCAA record for most blocked field goals in a quarter, as he prevented Thomas Weber from making three-point attempts from 29 and 48 yards (both tries came after USC offensive turnovers) in the third stanza … The defensive tackle also made three tackles and recovered a fumbled snap that resulted in a 21-yard loss for ASU with 4:56 left in the first half … Head to Head Competition: OG#67-Shaun Lauvao (6:03-305).

Arizona … Moala collected three tackles, assisting on a sack while having a hand in three stops behind the line of scrimmage … He took down tailback Nic Grigsby for a 1-yard loss on a late second quarter run and clobbered Grigsby again behind the line of scrimmage midway through the third frame. Moala killed that series, bringing out the Arizona punting unit after he sacked QB Willie Tuitama for a 10-yard loss on a third-&-11 play … Head to Head Competition: OG#74-Matt Diaz (6:04-322).

Stanford … Moala disrupted the Cardinal backfield most of the afternoon, as he caused a fumble, had an 8-yard sack, two stops behind the line of scrimmage and three solo tackles as USC held Stanford in check for a 45-23 victory … QB Tavita Pritchard was flattened on a third-&-8 play for an 8-yard sack, forcing Stanford to punt with 0:52 left in the first half … Head to Head Competition: OG#71-Andrew Phillips (6:05-299).

Notre Dame … The senior defensive tackle followed with three tackles that included 1.5 sacks for minus 10 yards … He dragged down QB Jimmy Clausen for an 8-yard loss, along with rush end Clay Matthews, in the second quarter … Moala later sacked Clausen again for a 6-yard loss on third-&-23, bringing out the Irish punting unit with 2:33 left in the first half … USC held Notre Dame to a total of four first downs in a 38-3 victory … Head to Head Competition: OG#55-Eric Olsen (6:04-303).

UCLA … Moala had just two tackles, including one that stopped Derrick Coleman for a 1-yard loss on a late third quarter run, as the Trojans held their inner city rival to seven first downs and 157 yards in total offense in a 24-7 triumph … Head to Head Competition: OG#73-Micah Kia (6:06-298).

2007 Season

All-Pac 10 Conference first-team selection by Rivals.com … Member of the Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski Award Watch Lists … Started all year at weak-side defensive tackle, recording a career-high 32 tackles (14 solos) that included 2.5 sacks for minus 16 yards and 5.5 stops for losses of 21 yards … Paced a front wall that ranked fourth in the nation in rush defense (84.15 ypg) and second in both scoring defense (16.00 ppg) and total defense (273.15 ypg) … Limited during spring drills by a left ankle sprain.

2007 Game Analysis

Posted five tackles (2 solos) with a stop behind the line of scrimmage vs. Nebraska … Had three hits, including one for a 2-yard loss vs. Washington … Sacked QB Jimmy Clausen for a 2-yard loss and was in on five tackles (3 solos) vs. Notre Dame … Registered six tackles vs. Oregon and totaled two stops, including one for a 2-yard loss vs. Arizona State … Had a 14-yard sack vs. UCLA and one assisted tackle vs. Illinois in the Rose Bowl.

2006 Season

Sophomore All-American honorable mention by College Football News … All-Pac 10 Conference honorable mention … Started ten of the thirteen games he played in, including vs. Nebraska, Arizona and Washington State at nose tackle for an injured Sedrick Ellis before taking over weak-side defensive tackle duties for the final seven contests … Made 20 tackles (10 solos) with 2.5 sacks for minus 8 yards and seven stops for losses totaling 16 yards … Deflected four passes and recovered a fumble … Helped the team rank ninth in the nation in rush defense (91.08 ypg) and eleventh in scoring defense (15.15 ppg).

2006 Game Analysis

Took down tailback Darren McFadden for a 2-yard loss on the season's first series vs. Arkansas … Assisted on a stop for a loss among his four hits vs. Nebraska … Registered a 4-yard sack and two tackles vs. Oregon State … Had three assisted hits vs. California and five solo tackles with a pass deflection, as he sacked QB Brady Quinn and made two stops for losses of 4 yards vs. Notre Dame … Sacked QB Chad Henne for a 3-yard loss and took down tailback Mike Hart behind the line of scrimmage vs. Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

2005 Season

Appeared in thirteen games, starting vs. Arizona State and Arizona at weak-side tackle … Finished with eight tackles (6 solos) and a stop for a 1-yard loss … Had a season-high three tackles vs. Washington State and posted a pair of hits vs. Arizona.

2004 Season

Red-shirted as a freshman … Named USC's Service Team Defensive Player of the Year.

Injury Report

2002: Missed all but two games of his high school senior season with a ligament tear in his left foot.

2007: Sat out a good portion of spring drills with a left ankle sprain.

2009: Could not complete agility tests at the NFL Combine due to a left groin strain.

Agility Tests

Combine: 5.07 40-yard dash … 1.69 10-yard dash … 2.90 20-yard dash … 8'4" broad jump … 30 1/2-inch vertical … Bench pressed 225 pounds 25 times … Could not complete 20-yard shuttle or three-cone drill due to a left groin strain … 33 3/8-inch arms … 10-inch hands.

Off-Field Issues

2008: Maola was arrested on March 2 for resisting and obstructing an officer after a melee at a Newport Beach bar was broken up by police. Moala posted $500 bail.

The fight broke out at 3950 Campus Road in Newport Beach in the parking lot of Hoagie Barmichaels bar. Officers from the Newport Beach and Irvine police as well as the Orange County sheriffs department arrived and ordered everyone in the vicinity on the ground. Moala initially cooperated, according to Newport Beach Sgt. Evan Sailor, but then got up and ran into the bar. An officer followed and arrested Moala.

The fight was between John Vuki, 19, of Buena Park, who was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon, and a 17-year old from Long Beach, who was arrested for battery. Sailor said one of the men swung a bat at the other.

"(Moala) was not part of the fight at all, but police were dealing with mass bedlam and when a guy gets up and runs away it doesn't help things," Sailor said.

On March 13, the Orange County District Attorney's office said it declined to file charges against Moala because of a lack of sufficient evidence. While Moala was not involved in the fight, he was arrested after failing to comply with a police officer's order to leave the premises.

Before the Orange County District Attorney's office said it could decline to press charges, Moala had been scheduled to be arraigned in late April. USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone said the university was aware of the incident and handled it internally.

Junior College

Originally signed with USC in 2003, but did not qualify for admission, so he attended Cypress (Calif.) Junior College in 2003 as a part-time student (he didn't play football there).

High School

Attended Western (Anaheim, Cal.) High School … An early-season foot ligament injury sidelined Moala for all but two of his senior season games … Still earned 2002 Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-West, Tom Lemming All-West and Tacoma News Tribune Western 100 honors as a two-way lineman … As a junior, he was named All-CIF Division IX and All-League while posting 60 tackles and four sacks.

Personal

Sociology major … Cousin is former Oregon defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (2002-05), now with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens … Born 6/23/85 … Resides In Buena Park, California.

 
Latest News
04/28/2009 - QUOTE TO NOTE: "This guy isn't necessarily the big guy in the middle. He's a bigger guy than we've had. We still need length, we still need athleticism, we still need change of direction. The under tackle is still a guy that has to be able to get through the gap and disrupt. But it's hard to win consistently with 275 pound guys in there. It helps if they're 290 to 300. And then of course, the nose tackle is a different story. He could even be bigger if you could find one." -- Colts team president Bill Polian on the selection of former Southern California DT Fili Moala.

04/28/2009 - A closer look at the Colts' picks: Round 2/56 -- Fili Moala, DT, 6-4, 305, Southern Cal...Indianapolis moved up from the 61st spot to the 56th after a trade with the Miami Dolphins. The Colts swapped spots with Miami plus gave up a fifth-round pick in this year's draft. Moala big, quick athletic defensive lineman who can also be a force as an inside pass rusher.

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