SALT LAKE CITY — Utah running back Zack Moss vows he’ll “be ready to go” when the Utes open Pac-12 play Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium against 10th-ranked Washington.
“That’s for sure,” he said before downplaying an apparent ankle injury that took him out of action for a while in the fourth quarter of last week’s 17-6 victory at Northern Illinois.
“No percentages on it right now,” Moss said. “But I’ll be ready to go for sure.”
Utah’s leading rusher, who averages 108 yards per game, then left little doubt about his status for the game.
“I’m definitely playing,” he said after practice on Monday.
Moss, though, isn’t putting any extra emphasis on facing the Huskies, who topped the Pac-12’s preseason media poll.
“It’s just another game to me. I come out here the same way trying to be focused each and every day,” Moss said. “Be consistent and just go out here in front of our fans and give them the best show we can.”
Team success overrides any sort of challenge of outgaining highly touted Washington running back Myles Gaskin.
“All of that comes with the win, man. If we win, hopefully I play good to better our chances,” Moss said. “I never really try to make it a head-to-head thing.”
Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that Moss will have a greater role after getting 16 carries in each of this season’s games. The junior rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown in the 41-10 win over Weber State. He followed it up with 66 yards and a score in the 17-6 triumph at Northern Illinois.
“We just need to feature him a little bit more. He is a tremendous back,” Whittingham said. “He came away with 16 carries against NIU and that's not a ton shy of what he needs because you don't want to overwork the guy. But he’s a weapon that we need to utilize a little bit more. That is on us as coaches."
PRAISING HANSEN: Washington coach Chris Petersen had kind things to say about Utah linebacker Chase Hansen, the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week. However, Petersen first joked that Hansen has been with the Utes forever and somebody should check his eligibility.
“That guy has made a lot of plays for Utah over the years and what a heck of an athlete — to play him in the secondary and now at linebacker,” Petersen said at his weekly press conference. “He’s just around the ball and fearless and physical. Really good player.”
EXTRA POINTS: Utah is 8-2 in “blackout games.” The losses came against TCU in 2010 and UCLA in 2013 ... Former Ute running back Mike Anderson will be inducted into the Crimson Club Hall of Fame Friday night. Anderson and the other honorees — Amanda Feigt (soccer), Ashley Postell (gymnastics), Kim Smith (basketball), Mike Sojourner (basketball) and Ron Steele (skiing) — will be introduced at halftime on Saturday ... Freshman Solomon Enis is on this week’s depth chart as the backup x-receiver behind junior Siaosi Mariner ... The Utes are No. 1 in the nation in total defense (143.5 ypg) and passing defense (62 ypg). They’re No. 2 in pass efficiency defense (57.12 rating).
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Utes on the air
No. 10 Washington (1-1)
at Utah (2-0)
Saturday, 8 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 700AM