With Bryce Love sidelined, Utah’s Zack Moss stakes claim as Pac-12’s top RB

Oct 6, 2018; Stanford, CA, USA; Utah Utes running back Zack Moss (2) runs for a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal in the second quarter at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Just as everyone expected, a future NFL draft pick carried his team to an impressive win late Saturday night at Stanford.

To the chagrin of Stanford head coach David Shaw and last year’s Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love, however, that back was Utah’s Zack Moss, whose 160 rushing yards and two touchdowns helped power the Utes to a surprisingly dominant 40-21 win over the 14th ranked Cardinal.

As he has throughout his career, Moss showed off the light feet and quick change of direction one might expect from a relative of former University of Miami and NFL wideout Santana and Sinorice Moss.

The latest NFL prospect from the Moss family, however, is much stouter than his predecessors, showing good balance and power through contact, as well as impressive agility and speed for a 5-9, 215 pounder who entered the game ranked sixth on NFLDraftScout.com’s board among junior running backs.

While far from the pace that Love set a year ago for the Cardinal, Moss has been the picture of consistency thus far for the Utes, rushing now for 549 yards (unofficially) and scoring at least one touchdown in all five games this season.

Unfortunately for the Cardinal, that has not been the case this season for the 5-10, 202 pound Love, who shocked scouts with his decision to return for his senior season after a breakout junior campaign in which he exploded for 2,118 yards and 19 touchdowns, earning the prestigious Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top back.

While Love’s production and speed have earned him plenty of fans in the scouting community, there remain critics who question whether he possesses the size to handle full-time duties in the NFL, just as there with Washington’s similarly-built Myles Gaskin (5-9, 191).

Those concerns are growing with Love in street clothes on the sideline nursing a sore ankle game after previously sitting out against UC-Davis three weeks ago.

Love currently has 327 yards and three scores on the season, averaging 4.3 yards per carry; numbers that appear reasonable until one considers that he averaged an eye-popping 7.73 yards over his 404 carries entering the 2018 season.

Love, of course, has plenty of time to rescue his slipping NFL draft stock.

Meanwhile, the more prototypically-built Moss is moving up, rewarding scouts who stayed up late (kickoff came at approximately 10:30 pm Eastern time) after rushing for 1,173 yards and 10 touchdowns as Utah’s starter a season ago.