Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Strongest position group: Utah
By Kevin Gemmell
Every team has a strength -- that one position group that can make a play on offense or make a big stop on defense when needed.
Based on what happened this spring, we're going to look at the strongest position group for each school. It could be on either side of the ball -- and it could be subject to change after fall camp goes into full swing.
We're going in reverse alphabetical order.
Strongest position group: Defensive line
Headliner: Star Lotulelei (44 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks)
Supporting cast: Joe Kruger (35/5/3); Dave Kruger (22/1.5/1); Nate Fakahafua (4/0/0); Thretton Palamo (6/0/0); LT Tuipulotu (6/0/0)
The skinny: With an average weight across the projected starting four of 284 pounds, there isn't a lot of skinny to be found. And it starts in the middle with Lotulelei, the sitting Morris Trophy holder and All-America candidate. The 325-pounder feasts on double-teams. His job isn't to put up mind-blowing stats, it's to take multiple offensive linemen out of the play and allow his linebackers to mop up, and there is no defensive lineman in the conference that does it better. It's why he's being projected as a top five pick in next year's NFL draft.
He's got some pretty good experience alongside him as well with Dave Kruger, a three-year starter at defensive tackle who has 27 starts since his freshman year and has played in 38-of-39 games.
LT Tuipulotu missed spring ball with a knee injury, but should be good to go in the fall and he'll spell Lotulelei and Kruger along with redshirt freshman Seni Fauonuku.
On one defensive end spot, Joe Kruger returns and added some weight. He's up to about 275. Fakahafua will be the only first-time starter, but he saw some time as a true freshman so nothing should really be all that daunting. JC transfer Niasi Leota, true freshman Hunter Dimick and Palamo, a converted running back, add good depth to an already nasty group.