The best way to describe Utah's offensive line in 2016? Good enough. While they weren't great at anything, the highly experienced line was decent in the area of run blocking, and surprisingly efficient in their pass blocking. Senior Siaosi Aiono was one of the best centers in the conference and was Utah's other quarterback on the field on offense, continually calling out assignments pre-snap. He was more that solid and will be missed.
The guard play between Salesi Uhatafe and Isaac Asiata took a step forward this season, especially in pass protection as both made strides over last season. Asiata is nearing hsi ceiling, but Uhatafe shows flashes of being an elite offensive lineman. If he can put it all together, Utah may have an all conference candidate on their hands.
JJ Dielman was a rock at the left tackle spot, showing a versatility in run and pass blocking that has exceeded his high school projections. Dielman rarely lost battles in the passing game, continually locking down the opposing teams' best pass rushers.
The one issue on the line this season? Left tackle. Sam Tevi was absolutely lost for the first couple of games, clueless as to what he was doing out there and getting beat quite a bit. The Utes would rotate in Jackson Barton at times, but he looked even more confused than Tevi. Neither showed the nastiness that Utah has had in previous years with Jeremiah Poutasi manning that spot. Things did improve as the year went on with both looking more comfortable and Tevi actually looking like like he was meant to be an offensive lineman.
As a whole, this group could have done more in the running game, and when they got it going, the holes for Booker and company were huge, but those intances weren't as common as the the Utes would have liked. Too often Booker was forced to break tackles in the backfield, turning 5 yard losses into 2 yard gains.
Moving forward, Utah is in great shape on the line with only Aiono moving on. The addition of 5 star tackle Garrett Bolles gives Utah a cornerstone for their line in 2016. He'll likely step directly into the starting spot at left tackle, displacing Sam Tevi and Jackson Barton (who can move to right tackle or even inside if it's Tevi). With a year of experience under their belt, both Tevi and Barton should be able to take a step forward in 2016. JJ Dielman returns and could end up at a number of spots whether it's sticking at right tackle, moving to center where he was recruited, or even to one of the guard spots. He's the most versatile guy on the line and will nab a starting spot somewhere. If Dielman doesn't get the nod at center, Hiva Lutui and Nick Nowakowski will battle it out for the starting nod. Lutui has some experience starting having done so at both center and guard in the past. Both Salesi Uhatafe and Isaac Asiata return at the guard spots, but with the addition of Bolles bumping one of the tackles, you may see the two Uhatafe and Asiata battling it out for the final starting spot. Either way, Utah has lots of depth in 2016 that extends beyond their two-deep with guys like Darrin Paulo and Nick Carman who both redshirted this season. This group should be very good.
2016 Projected Offensive Line Depth Chart