The Utah Utes are looking for ways to help their struggling offense from 2012, and they thing they’ve found a way through the offensive line. Last season, the O-line was a major weakness for the Utes, surrendering 25 sacks, failed to consistently provide room for the running game and faced issues with their depth because of injuries. In 2013, Utah is looking to fix those issues and provide a solid foundation up front that the whole offense will benefit from.
Utah is looking to move people around this spring in order to get their best five guys in place for next fall. According to co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson speaking to the Salt Lake Tribune, the moves could turn the line into a strength for 2013:
“Talking to (offensive line coach) Dan Finn, we are going to be bigger, stronger and faster. We have a lot of solid guys and we are excited about the potential.”
The lineman they are most excited about could be sophomore tackle Jeremiah Poutasi. The 6-foot-5, 345-pound sophomore will be making the move to left tackle in 2013 following a strong freshman season at right tackle. He is being pegged as Utah’s “next great lineman” and will take over the anchor position on the blind side of the quarterback.
Next to him will be Jeremiah Tofaeono at left guard. The senior was hampered by injuries for much of the 2012 season, but was a very solid interior blocker when healthy. The Utes are counting on him to bounce back this season, stay healthy, and provide some senior leadership next to the young tackle next to him.
At center, Vyncent Jones moves down from left guard, where he primarily played in 2012, to take over the snapping duties from Tevita Stevens, who graduated. At 6-foot-3, 305-pounds, Jones has the size to hold down the interior but will face a bit of an adjustment as he incorporates calling out the line’s signals and handing snaps.
The right side of the line will feature Junior Salt at guard and Siaosi Aiono at tackle. Salt is a former defensive lineman who was moved to offense while he recovered from a broken foot in 2012. Aiono, a 6-foot-2, 305-pound sophomore, may be the least sure to keep his starter’s job out of spring practice as he tries to hold off junior Carlos Lozano, a 6-foot-6, 380-pound project that has struggled to drop weight since coming to Utah last season.
There are plenty of fresh faces in new places for Utah all along the offensive line for 2013. Will the changes be what makes the Utes’ offense run next fall?