Utah’s Offensive Line Off To A Good Start, Strength Is Depth
SALT LAKE CITY- A big part of what did the Utes in early in 2021 was poor offensive line play to start the year. Throughout spring and fall camp of 2022, head coach Kyle Whittingham, along with offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig and position coach Jim Harding said the goal was to come out of the gate faster.
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While Utah’s season opener against Florida didn’t go exactly how they wanted it to, one of the big upsides was seeing the offensive line play really well against one of the best defensive lines in the country. Harding has noticed a big difference in his group from this season compared to last, especially when it comes to the useable depth.
Utah’ s Offensive Line Running Deep
Depth has been an issue in the past for the Utes when it’s come to their offensive line. Harding has always done a really good job at finding talent and recruiting it, however, toward the beginning of his career with Utah he was plagued by a series of unfortunate medical retirements that set the depth of his group back for years. 2021 was the first year the Oblock truly looked to be back on track despite the slow start, and 2022 is looking to be even better.
“I think right now we could say we have nine or 10 guys we feel comfortable playing,” Harding said. “Certainly this past Saturday those guys got about 30 reps which I think are invaluable. It also gives us a chance to evaluate them in a game situation versus out here at practice. I think we do have the depth, but certainly hope we don’t have to test it.”
Utah was expected to beat Southern Utah handily last Saturday to where the twos and threes would have opportunities to play. On the offensive line, it seemed like the twos had very little to no drop-off from the ones which isn’t always the case.
“I was really proud with the way the second group worked,” Harding said. “There wasn’t a big drop off in terms of- we did have a couple of penalties, but it wasn’t false starts or erratic snaps, things like that. I think we only had two mental errors in that group so I was really pleased with how they performed.”
Harding is really loving the fact his group has an entire other unit that has been building chemistry and learning to work together as one. A benefit to that is having guys become masters of a single position rather than being ok at all of them.
“It certainly helps because those guys have developed a little bit of chemistry because they are only playing in those spots all throughout practice,” Harding said. “In one-on-one pass rush we might work a guy that might be a guard out at right tackle or vice versa, but in terms of just the team reps they are pretty consistent in terms of playing with each other. I think that is a luxury to have because they are repping one position and trying to learn the nuances of the position.”
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