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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Utah Utes running back Zack Moss breaks off a big run against USC in Los Angeles on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017. USC won, 28-27.
I thought we ran the ball effectively. Zack Moss played his best game as a Ute. He ran with great violence and determination —Kyle Whittingham

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah obviously didn’t run away from USC in last week’s 28-27 loss at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. However, the Utes did have a breakthrough on the ground.

Sophomore running back Zack Moss ran for a career-high 141 yards in the setback. He averaged an impressive 7.1 yards per carry.

“I thought we ran the ball effectively. Zack Moss played his best game as a Ute,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “He ran with great violence and determination.”

Moss easily surpassed his previous career-best, a 128-yard effort in the season opener against North Dakota. After that, things got a bit sluggish. Over games with BYU, San Jose State, Arizona and Stanford, Moss tallied just 219 yards on 51 carries.

Moss acknowledged that he struggled early in the year. However, he said things began to turn with the start of Pac-12 play.

Then came the USC game, where Moss noted that some things came together.

“That is the Zack Moss that I have been waiting on for some time now. He is a very capable back,” Whittingham said. “He is physical, he can run people over. I mean you saw him running linebackers over from USC. The light switch has come on and hopefully that is what we get week in and week out. He is a very talented back.”

Moss, who is 5-foot-10 and 210 pounds, is part of the Hallandale High School trio that came to Utah after stellar prep careers in Florida. Quarterback Tyler Huntley and wide receiver Demari Simpkins are the others.

Whittingham added that, in the USC game, Moss “looked exactly how we wanted him to look when we recruited him."

“He was running over people, exploding into would-be tacklers,” Whittingham said. “He made so many explosive, violent runs in that game and it was impressive."

Quarterback Troy Williams likes what he’s been seeing out of Moss.

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“I feel like he had a good game. I feel like he’s been doing good all year. That game last week really put a stamp on the type of back he can be.”

Moss credited the offensive line for giving him a lot of great holes to hit. He also appreciated that the coaches trusted him early on.

“I just wanted to come out there, play in the Coliseum — going against some friends over there — and show them what I can do,” Moss said.

As for consistency, Moss insists it’s not a problem. He’s determined to get even better this Saturday when Utah plays host to Arizona State.

Email: dirk@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @DirkFacer