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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes offensive linesman Percy Taumoelau (79) during a practice last year. Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson is optimistic the offensive will be a strength this year.
Even with many new faces, Utah's offensive line has potential to be improved in 2013
First Published Mar 15 2013 09:13 am • Last Updated Mar 15 2013 10:14 am

Time to take a look at Utah's offensive line, a problem area for the Utes last year as they gave up 25 sacks and struggled with depth issues due to injuries.

Utah co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson is optimistic the area will be a strength this year.

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"Talking to (offensive line coach) Dan Finn, we are going to be bigger, stronger and faster," he said. "We have a lot of solid guys and we are excited about the potential."

The Utes are particularly excited about sophomore Jeremiah Poutasi. The 6-foot-5, 345-pounder will anchor the left tackle spot and will be backed up by Andrew Albers (6-7, 310), a 2013 signee out of Orange Coast College who has enrolled and will participate in spring ball.

Senior Jeremiah Tofaeono (6-2, 320) is penciled in as the starter at left guard and will be backed up by returner Percy Taumoelau (6-4, 310).

The center position features a new face as senior Vyncent Jones (6-3, 305), who played mainly at left guard in 2012, replaces Tevita Stevens who graduated.

The right guard is expected to be Junior Salt (6-2, 325), a junior who missed 2012 due to a broken foot and was moved from defense to offense during his recovery process.

His backup is sophomore Derek Tuimauga (6-4, 320), who returned from his mission and enrolled during the winter.

Sophomore Siaosi Aiono (6-2, 305) is penciled in as the starter at right tackle with junior Carlos Lozano (6-6, 380) as his backup.

There is a lot of shuffling and new faces on the line, but I can understand why the Utes are hopeful the line will be improved.

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Poutasi could be Utah's next great lineman after a freshman year in which he excelled at the right tackle spot. Tofaeono was hindered by injuries last year but when he was healthy he was a solid player.

Both Salt and Lozano are players to watch. Salt was rated as one of the top linemen available after he was named to the 2011 first-team All-America Community College team while Lozano has worked hard to drop weight since arriving on campus last season.

If Salt and Lozano can live up to expectations, the Utes could be very solid indeed.

- Lya Wodraska

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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