It was a bit of a transitional season for the Utah football team this season on the offensive side of the ball. It all started with the hiring of Troy Taylor as offensive coordinator, after Coach Whittingham decided to move on from Aaron Roderick. Taylor was bringing in a more pass centric offense that would be more QB focused. Of course, the Utes were also replacing four offensive linemen, their starting running back (Joe Williams), and one of their best wide receivers in Tim Patrick. When you combine all of that you figured there would be some growing pains. The Utes were bringing back their starting QB though with Troy Williams, so they had that going for them... oh wait, Tyler Huntley beat him out for the starting roll. That’s a lot of new on the offensive side of the ball.
With all of that said, when you look back at the season, who was the offensive MVP for this team? I think there are some reasonable names to consider, but one stands out for me. If he wouldn’t have gotten hurt, it probably would have been Tyler Huntley, but it’s not him. Same story for Darren Carrington, like Huntley, he started the season on fire, but some injuries really slowed him the last half of the season. For me, the MVP on offense is sophomore running back Zack Moss. The young running back ran for 1173 yards and 10 touchdowns. Moss was rather consistent throughout the year, which actually surprised me once I looked at his stats, because I know he was a bit banged up to open the season. The running game as a whole really seemed to struggle to open the season, and while it wasn’t as productive as we would have liked it, Moss was pretty solid to open things up given the number of carries he had. He kicked things up later in the season when he really started to get some more carries. He was at his best when Utah really needed him against Colorado and in the bowl game. Against CU, he was virtually unstoppable, as he ran over, around and through people all game long. The 196 yards in that game was a career high, and even more impressive than the yards were the hits he was dealing out to CU defenders. Against WVU he continued his tear with 150 yards, and the ‘Neers couldn’t stop him. I think Moss is proving to be quite the big game player, when given the opportunity. He ran for 141 yards on 20 carries against USC in LA and 153 against UCLA when Utah was in their tailspin, which he helped pull them out of. In fairness, everyone ran all over UCLA. He also had almost 100 yards last season against USC, so he likes to play the Men of Troy it appears.
The only thing that slowed down Moss this season is when he didn’t get the ball. Moss started to get a lot of carries as the season went along, with the high of 26 in the regular season finale against CU. The problem with him getting a lack of carries appeared to be because of the lack of Tyler Huntley giving him the ball on RPO plays. Huntley is a gifted runner and playmaker, which led him to keep the ball a lot on those RPOs, but it kept Moss from getting loose. I mean, Huntley did have 500 yards on the ground himself, and made things interesting when he’d throw out of the RPO, but a guy like Moss should have around 25 carries a game. The fact that he only had 12 carries against ASU, 10 carries against Oregon, 13 against WSU and 17 against Washington isn’t ideal. Again, Huntley takes a bit of the heat in not letting him get his carries, but Moss needs to get at least 30 touches a game - both rushing and receiving. Utah’s offense did grind to a halt at time this season, and while Moss did struggle at times, he has turned into another product, maybe star running back for the Utes.
Going into next season, with an improve and more experience offensive line, Moss could have a big season on his hands. You combine him with the return of Armand Shyne and Devonta’e Henry-Cole, he should be able to remain pretty fresh through out the season, which should hopefully keep him healthy.
Who would you give the offensive MVP to for this past season?