The results were largely the same, but at least Utah tried something new on the offensive line in the spring. After a difficult 2013 season in which Utah's front five struggled to run block consistently and pass block anyone, we didn't see results that were much different in the spring despite a new line coach.
Let's start with a positive and that's Jeremiah Poutasi. After a freshman all american campaign in 2012, Poutasi looked out of shape in 2013 while he struggled with injuries and a new position at left tackle. The junior to be started out out at left guard and looked like a brand new player with a drop in weight. Poutasi is more natural at guard where his slow first step back isn't exposed by quick pass rushers. He may be forced to play left tackle though due to the Utes not having anyone else, but his performance in the spring was a positive and he's looking mor and more like what we expected last season.
Who is Andrew Albers? After redshirting last year, Albers was a disaster in the spring, dropping from a starting tackle spot to generally with the 3s by the end of camp. Then the spring game rolls around and he's the best lineman on the field. Maybe Albers is one of those guys that excels with a stadium full of fans. Ute fans better hope so, as he's got ideal size for a left tackle and being able to slide Poutasi back inside if Albers can play is the best case scenario. If he wants to be a consistent Pac 12 player, Albers needs to do some work on his body and lose the tire around his waist.
Hiva Lutui bounced around the line playing both guard spots at times and was serviceable. He's not a very big guy and was often beat up the middle in pass protection. His spot probably gets handed off to Junior Salt upon his return.
Isaac Asiata bounced back and forth between the first and second team at right tackle. He still looks more like a guard than a tackle, and because of it didn't have a very good spring, especially in pass protection. Will have to battle hold on to a starting spot in the fall.
Lo Falemaka came on strong at the end of camp. He's still pretty light at around 265-270 pounds, but is a mean SOB and has a lot of upside. Will eventually be a starting tackle at Utah. Book it.
Leka Uhatafe was another surprise in spring ball. After a redshirt year he played his way into the starting lineup later in camp and will compete for a starting spot in the fall. Great size and moves pretty well. Just needs more reps.
Marc Pouvave missed most of spring and is a backup at best right now. Same with Kala Friel.
Siaosi Aiono slid inside from right tackle to center and it's still a work in progress. The glaring issue throughout camp was the constant high snaps to the quarterbacks that must be remedied over the summer. Aiono doesn't look very comfortable at the center spot yet, but as it stands, despite a spring that was not up to par, he's Utah's best option at the moment.
Nick Nowakowski took the second team reps at center and some first team reps at guard. He's very thick, but is a nasty lineman that defenders don't like to go against. Ceiling is low, but smarts are high. Good depth guy.
J.J. Dielman was the pleasant surprise of the spring, vaulting into a starting spot by the end of the four weeks. Dielman looks like the best pass blocking lineman on the team, showing quick feet and using his long arms very well. The kid from Arizona still needs more weight if he wants to be effective in the Pac 12, but his spring was a step in the right direction.
Jackson Barton was on campus early and showed a lot of promise. His size and work ethic are tremendous, but he's still a bit raw and needs to add a bit more bulk throughout his body. The future is bright for Barton despite a tough day at the spring game and a redshirt season in 2014 could catapult him into a possible starting spot by 2015.
Spring Offensive Line Position Rankings
1. Jeremiah Poutasi
2. Leka Uhatafe
3. Siaosi Aiono
4. JJ Dielman
5. Isaac Asiata
6. Nick Nowakowski
7. Lo Falemaka
8. Jackson Barton
9. Marc Pouvave
Spring Review: Offensive Line
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