Utah soccer led the Pac-12 in dashing in 2021, however now the offensive line is getting a makeover

Utes want to determine heart place with Nick Ford gone, whereas proper guard has intrigue, choices.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham and Utah soccer gamers salute Aaron Lowe and Ty Jordan throughout a break within the motion, between Utah Utes and Ohio State Buckeyes within the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022.

The University of Utah led the Pac-12 in any dashing class price mentioning final season.

The Utes averaged 216.8 yards per contest, which was good for thirteenth nationally. They rushed for 3,035 yards, 37 touchdowns and 5.57 yards per try. Their 545 dashing makes an attempt represented higher than 58% of their whole performs run.

Looking forward to the 2022 season, Utah’s working backs room is loaded, headlined by Tavion Thomas, who rushed for 1,108 yards and 21 touchdowns final season. The offensive line, nevertheless, is getting a makeover.

Versatile three-time All-Pac-12 lineman Nick Ford, who began at the least one recreation in his profession in any respect 5 offensive line positions, is gone to the NFL draft after spending most of final season at heart. Bam Olaseni, who emerged as arguably one of the best left deal with within the Pac-12, can also be embarking on knowledgeable profession. But, as ordinary at Utah, there’s a perception that there’s sufficient depth alongside the road that Ford and Olaseni leaving ought to merely be a hiccup.

The excellent news is that Braeden Daniels returns after an All-Pac-12 season during which he began all 14 video games, 11 of them at proper deal with — although a place change seems to be at the least a reliable risk this season.

“Braeden is the leader of that offensive line, he’s the guy that everybody looks to,” Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham stated Tuesday afternoon following apply. “He’s playing left tackle exclusively for us right now, which is what we need and he’s doing a good job.

“He is as versatile as Nick. He and Nick are very similar in that regard.”

Daniels is the most-seasoned offensive lineman at Whittingham’s disposal, having began in 39 video games. Keeping him at left deal with long run to guard Cam Rising’s blind aspect makes a variety of sense, though there will likely be questions on the matter going into fall camp.

Before he was misplaced for the season in early October to torn knee cartilage, Jaren Kump had made a case as one of the best deal with on the roster. Per Whittingham, Kump is restricted this spring, however is 4-6 weeks away from being 100%. That means he must be wholesome in loads of time earlier than fall camp in August. Assuming full well being in time for camp, Kump initiatives as a wholesome favourite to start out at one of many two deal with spots.

If Daniels stays in management at left deal with, the battle for proper deal with then turns into Kump having to struggle off the likes of Falcon Kaumatule and Zereoue Williams, each of whom are greener on the place. Whittingham went so far as to say Tuesday that he might see 5 or 6 guys jockeying for that place.

“I’ve practiced so much on both sides that I really feel comfortable on both sides,” stated Kump, who began all 5 video games in 2020 at proper deal with as a returned missionary. “Honestly, though, I don’t know which one it’s going to be yet.”

Added offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig: “It’s day-by-day with the rehab, but nobody works harder with the rehab. It’s also stealing reps and working the mental side of the game. Jaren does a great job with that, but we have to get him on the field and I look forward to that.”

The solely different participant moreover Ford to start out a recreation at heart final season was Paul Maile, which occurred 3 times when Ford kicked outdoors to left guard whereas Keaton Bills was damage. Like Kump, Maile is rehabbing an harm however is anticipated to be a full participant and get an extended have a look at heart as soon as fall camp rolls round.

Whittingham has given no indication that anybody moreover Bills is in line at left guard, whereas proper guard appears prepared to supply some preseason curiosity.

Sataoa Laumea began the ultimate 13 video games at proper guard, however Michael Mokofisi is getting first-team reps. Whittingham has stated various instances, together with Tuesday, that the teaching workers likes Mokofisi’s upside.

Whittingham likes his projected offensive line depth all the best way to the tenth, possibly even twelfth man, however the expertise issue or lack thereof, is one thing to keep watch over, particularly with the Sept. 3 opener at Florida probably performing as a season-defining recreation.

Mokofisi has by no means began a recreation, Maile has began simply 4, however has performed in 12. Daniels has performed in 35 video games, together with 29 begins, however none of that has come at left deal with.

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