Cal’s defense has the challenge of trying to limit the conference’s leading rusher in tonight’s game against No. 12 Utah (6-1).
Senior running back Zack Moss is the Utes’ alltime leader in career rushing yardage, and he is on pace for his third 1,000-yard season.
His 102.2 rushing yards per game lead the Pac-12, and his 6.6 yards per carry rank second in the conference behind only Washington State’s Max Borghi (7.3).
“He’s a big man,” Cal defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said of the 222-pound Moss. “He runs through tackles, then you see him go the distance on people, he can open it up and run away from people.
“He can make you miss in the hole with some shake, he can make you miss because he’s just so powerful and built low to the ground. He’s an excellent back. I’m sure he’s going to be an NFL back.”
During practice this week, the Bears used their own big back, Christopher Brown Jr., to give the Cal defense someone similar to work against.
The Bears (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12) have a strong defense, but they have not been dominant against the run. They allow opponents to average 3.85 yards per carry, which ranks fourth in the conference.
The last time the teams met, in 2016, Cal stopped Moss on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1-yard line the final play of Cal’s 28-23 victory.
Tonigh it will be important to stop Utah’s rushing attempts on first and second down.
Utah quarterback Tyler Huntley will probably start tonight, although Utes coach Kyle Whittingham has not confirmed that. Huntley left last week’s 21-3 victory over Arizona State with an injury.