Player Review: Utah’s Zack Moss

Clay Smarslok | Sept. 2nd, 2019

Even though the College Football season is only one week old, the potential of this 2020 running back class has been talked about for what seems like years. All average college fans know the names like Jonathan Taylor, D’Andre Swift, and Travis Etienne. But there is one that could be joining that list of household names very soon and that is Utah’s senior tailback, Zack Moss.

Now just because he isn’t necessarily a household name doesn’t mean that people don’t know about his game. Moss is actually a very well known prospect in the scouting community. Even after leaving last year early due to a season-ending knee injury, he almost declared for this past year’s draft. If he were to come out early, he probably would have wound up as a mid to late day two selection. But with returning to a Utah team that has legitimate Playoff expectations, he has a real chance to drastically increase his stock, even in a heavy running back class. Game number one was a fantastic start to him doing just that.

On the same night Travis Etienne ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns, Zack Moss had his own coming-out party against hated rival BYU. In Thursday night’s win over the Cougars, Moss ran for 187 yards and one touchdown in dominating fashion. He showed he brings a lot to the table in the running game, not being just a one-trick pony. Granted, he will need to show he can provide more as a receiver in the passing game, but having 29 receptions in his sophomore season tells us that he really could be if they wanted to involve him more often, but that remains to be seen. 

The name of Moss’s game is his physical running style. He is not one to shy away from contact, in fact, it seems like he embraces it. Luckily for him, his body type and playing style mix well together standing at 5’10 and a compact 222 pounds. He has got a thick build that almost reminds you of a David Montgomery. As you can see in the play below, he has the ability and mentality to put his head down, run you over and keep on moving ahead. While this is so fun to watch as a fan, it could also ultimately be the reason he misses some games, like last year for instance. Until he has injury issues that you can’t look past, there is no reason not to enjoy him bowling people over. 

This next play was my favorite of the game. Right when he is handed the ball, he finds the hole, hits it and turns the jets on. He was not touched for the first 25 yards, going straight up the middle, showing vision, burst and a nice little cut to make one defender dive looking like an absolute fool. Then when he was touched at the 30-yard line, on the facemask, by the way, he shrugs it off and runs for another five yards before being knocked down from behind. The contact balance he shows to stand on his feet and keep moving, while he had every right to go down from a facemask, with another guy right in his face, is special. This one run gave us multiple reasons to be excited about his game, but it is not over just yet.

This last play shows another part of him that people may not think of with Moss. He has got some wiggle to his game. In this play you see him make a tremendous jump cut to fit into a hole that wasn’t particularly open but breaks a tackle and creates more yards after contact and then carrying two more defenders for an extra four more yards, getting nine in total. Creating yards after contact is not only something he did all night long but throughout his career in Utah.

From these three plays alone, you start to get an idea of what kind of player you are dealing with when it comes to Zack Moss. Now let’s be clear, Moss is not the perfect prospect by any means. There will still be questions about his production in passing situations, whether that is as a receiver or a blocker. As a runner, he does not have prototypical long speed but it shows to be solid enough to where he can get to the outside and turn his shoulders upfield but he won’t be a burner that just runs past the entire defense. However, as a whole, he does what you want him to. He is the best running back in the Pac-12 and could possibly seal his fate as a top-five back with a productive and healthy senior season and participating in Reese’s Senior Bowl in January. It will be exciting to watch how he performs and because he is on a team that could possibly get to the playoffs, he could really get that national recognition that Utah players usually don’t receive.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images