BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss would like everyone who saw his clutch, acrobatic, toe-touching catch at Alabama to know one thing going forward.
There’s more where that came from.
“Everybody’s surprised or wowed by that catch. Yeah, it’s a good catch. I make catches like those,” said Moss, whose Pro Football Hall of Fame father, Randy Moss, also had a knack for making memorable grabs.
“I know I’m capable of doing a whole lot more. I’m capable of making a whole lot more crazy catches,” Moss continued. “So, I’m hoping it’s a defining moment that just gets things rolling from here.”
That’s something Mississippi’s defense will have to keep in mind on Saturday night when the Rebels (4-6, 2-4 SEC) host to the top-ranked and unbeaten Tigers (9-0, 5-0).
“You’ve got to cover Thad,” LSU quarterback Joe Burrow said. “He makes catches like that in practice. So that was just another catch for him. Maybe runs in the family, I don’t know. I expected him to make the catch. That’s why I threw him the ball. That’s why if we get 1-on-1 (coverage) with Thad, we’re going to throw him the ball.”
Moss, a junior who transferred from North Carolina State in 2017 and missed last season with a foot injury, has caught 27 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown this season. His production has spiked during his last five games, when he’s made 24 of his catches for 216 yards.
The pivotal reception at Alabama, which set up a touchdown, was made at the Crimson Tide 1-yard line — so close to the sideline that officials reviewed it on video before ultimately confirming their initial call that Moss had made the catch after briefly being pushed out of bounds and then re-establishing himself as inbounds. After he came back in bounds, he leaped to make the outstretched grab and narrowly touched both toes in bounds as most of his body leaned over the sideline. Moss then maintained control as he crashed to the ground.
While Moss downplayed how difficult that play was for him to pull off, he was gratified by when and where it happened, and who was there to see it.
It was a highlight of LSU’s first victory over Alabama in nine meetings.
And Moss said he’s been told that his father, who was in the stands for most of the game in Tuscaloosa, “said, ‘Wow!’”
The elder Moss, who had to catch a flight before the game ended to fulfill his commitment as an NFL television analyst, looked and sounded giddy on TV Sunday during a replay of his son’s big play.
“Everybody in the stadium got Mossed,” Randy Moss hollered into the studio camera. “Way to go, baby!”
The younger Moss said he was told by relatives in the stands that his father “was jumping up and down and going crazy.”
“When I talked to him, he was ecstatic,” the younger Moss said. “And then, of course, when they put it on the TV show, that was real emotion. I could tell.
“For me, personally, in the time, it felt good,” the younger Moss continued. “Moving forward, I hope it puts more respect on my name within our offense and with other teams preparing for our offense. Hopefully it’ll make them prepare a little bit more, think a little bit more just about game planning, which will ultimately help our offense overall.”
While the 6-foot-3, 249-pound Moss resembles his father in some ways and speaks very fondly of him, teammates say the LSU tight end shows no interest in living in his father’s shadow.
“If you were to talk to Thad and remove Moss from his last name, you wouldn’t think Thad is Randy Moss’ son — granted, he looks like Randy,” LSU safety Jacoby Stevens said.
They don’t play the same position. Randy Moss was a wide receiver.
Some tight ends can be heavily oriented toward the passing game, but Thaddeus Moss prides himself on executing the more physical elements of his position, including blocking.
“On the field, he’s a monster,” LSU outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson said. “He wants to finish blocks. He’s going to give everything to make sure you feel every ounce and pound of him.
“And he’s going to talk his game,” Chaisson added. “There’s going to be words that come out of his mouth throughout the game. ... He’s going to make sure you hear him.”
Stevens said Moss quickly processes defensive formations relative to down-and-distance situations, and “can know what coverage you’re about to play before you get in it.”
“It’s hard covering somebody that knows what you’re doing,” said Stevens, who has gone against Moss in practice. “He’s a complete tight end. He puts people on his back when he blocks, and he Mosses people when he has to catch the ball.”
Chaisson said Moss “doesn’t like the comparisons to his dad,” and “always wants to make sure people love him and like his game for who he is and not because of who his dad is.
“He’s a very humble person. He’s not getting too cocky off the field,” Chaisson added. “But on the field, he’s an animal and we love everything about it.”