When true freshman Chawntez Moss announced he was told by coaches that he would play immediately, I had some concerns. Pitt was particularly deep at running back with James Conner, Qadree Ollison, and Darrin Hall - not to mention Rachid Ibrahim, who was returning from missing all of last season.
Why play Moss with so many other options available? Mostly because he’s pretty good.
Moss has steadily earned more playing time as the season has gone on. He didn’t register a carry in the team’s first two games but has seen his workload continue to grow. He got his first two carries against Oklahoma State, picking up eight yards on two attempts. Last week against North Carolina, he was very impressive with seven carries for 47 yards and a touchdown.
This weekend against Marshall, he got 12 carries for 97 yards and a gaudy 8.1 yard-per-carry average. His 7.2 yards per attempt easily lead all running backs. Behind him is Conner, who is at a relatively pedestrian 4.2.
Moss is up to 21 carries on the year and looks like Pitt’s No. 2 guy behind Conner right now. Part of the reason he picked up 12 attempts was likely because Hall didn’t play against Marshall. But with his recent play and Ollison looking out of the picture (two carries in the past three games), Moss is looking more and more like the top backup.
Based on the way he’s playing, I’d expect we’ll continue to see more of him, whether Hall returns or not. Moss talked a little about that after the game as well, in regards to Pitt’s coaches staying with the hot hand.
“In practice, Coach Powell tells us that ‘if you are hot, we will keep you in the game,’ Moss said. “So when I was doing well they felt that I would give the team the best opportunity to be productive on offense.”
Pitt could have gotten by without him this year, but at this point, burning his redshirt looks like it was the right decision. He’s simply been too effective to sit and fans could be getting their glimpse of the team’s starter for next season should Conner leave school early for the NFL.