Breaking down Utah's offense heading into camp
As always, camp should provide quite a few interesting position battles for Utah fans to follow. Thought we'd break down how the Utes stand at various positions heading into camp. Today, let's look at the offense. The offensive line, primarily the tackles, is Utah's top concern, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said at the Pac-12 media day. Junior left tackle Percy Taumoelau and freshman right tackle Daniel Nielson both got a lot of time in spring ball but neither did enough to ease Whittingham's concerns, although he pointed out they are young. "They both improved," he said. "But we're young. That position is our most pressing issue, but we recruited to that end so we should have a lot of guys in the mix." The Utes will give junior college transfer Carlos Lozano, freshman J.J. Dielman, freshman Kala Friel, freshman Jeremiah Poutasi and returner Miles Mason all looks at the spot. The Utes had hoped to have junior Marc Pouvave on board as well, but he'll miss the season with a torn Achilles' tendon. Mason's role is the most interesting to me. A player brought aboard by former coordinator Norm Chow, Mason joined the Utes late for the 2011 season but immediately stepped into the starting role at left guard. The senior was listed as Nielson's backup after spring, but is listed as the starter on the pre-camp depth chart. The Utes are known to juggle their camp depth charts to motivate certain players, so we'll have to see how that battle plays out. The guard positions seem a little more clear with juniors Jeremiah Tofaeono and Latu Heimuli at left guard and senior Sam Brenner and redshirt freshman Siaosi Aiono at right guard. Center should be anchored by Tevita Stevens with Vyncent Jones as his backup. Jordan Wynn returns at quarterback and could be pushed by freshman Travis Wilson, who came on strong at the end of spring camp. However, don't forget about Chase Hansen as well, the former Lone Peak standout looked good as well. Whittingham said no job is certain, but Wynn, with his experience, still should be the Utes' guy, unless he really, really looks off once the season starts. The Utes are deep at running back with senior John White returning and transfer Kelvin York as his backup. The Utes also have Jarrell Oliver as an option too. The freshman did a nice job in spring and should get some time. Harvey Langi had a good spring but left on a mission. However, the Utes are bringing aboard another body in James Poole, a transfer from Saddleback College. Poole hasn't enrolled and will have some catching up to do when he arrives, but plans are for him to be a bigger impact next season. Looking at the receivers, the Utes have a dynamic bunch with sophomore Dres Anderson, senior DeVonte Christopher and sophomore Kenneth Scott returning and projected as starters. Backups are Reggie Dunn, Anthony Denham and Luke Matthews. Denham and fellow junior Sean Fitzgerald have had their good moments, but both have struggled with injuries. If they can stay healthy they could emerge as solid go-to guys once the season begins. Sophomore Quinton Pedroza has shown a lot of promise too and could be the guy to watch in camp. The group I can't wait to see in action are the tight ends and H-backs. The Utes are loaded at these positions with senior David Rolf, sophomore Jake Murphy and junior Westlee Tonga listed as the tight ends and senior Dallin Rogers and senior Max Moala at H-back. The Utes really like the way Rolf plays. He missed most of spring with a calf injury but is expected to win the starting role. These positions thought aren't about who is playing as much as how the Utes plan to use them. The Utes are stressing the need of being versatile as they go back to more of a spread offense. The versatility should show up in these positions more than any other as the coaches hope to use these players as fullbacks, wings and receivers. Keep an eye on Rogers, who had 11 catches and 167 yards in 2010. He could be in for a big year as the Utes return to a style of play suited to his talents.
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