UTAH UTES

Spring Ball Review: A Look At Utah Football’s Offensive Line

Jun 4, 2024, 11:30 AM

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utes wrapped up a very productive spring ball that has fans antsy for the start of the 2024 football season.

All of the promise is there, and opportunities feel plentiful for an overall very experienced group heading into a new conference in the Big 12.

Unfortunately, there are a few months left till we can see it all come together for the Utes on the field, but for now we can go back and review the team in anticipation.

 

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Today’s focus is on yet another traditionally strong group for Utah football- the offensive line led by position coach Jim Harding.

If you missed it last week, you can also check out the previous article about the Utes’ running backs from position coach Quinton Ganther.

Who Are The Utah Offensive Linemen?

  • No. 75 Roger Alderman, Sonora High School- Redshirt Freshman
  • No. 66 Hunter Deuel, American Fork High- Sophomore
  • No. 55 Spencer Fano, Spanish Fork High- Sophomore
  • No. 72 Isaiah Garcia, Corner Canyon- Freshman
  • No. 79 Alex Harrison, Viewmont High- Junior
  • No. 59 Falcon Kaumatule, Bishop Gorman- Senior
  • No. 68 Jaren Kump, Herriman High- Junior
  • No. 71 Caleb Lamu, Highland High- Redshirt Freshman
  • No. 53 Johnny Maea, East High, Senior
  • No. 60 Shintaro Mann, Timpview High, Senior
  • No. 62 Solatoa Moea’i, Punahou School, Sophomore
  • No. 52 Michael Mokofisi, Woods Cross High, Junior
  • No. 74 Keith Olsen, Napavine High, Sophomore
  • No. 64 Reece Parmenter, Crimson Cliffs High, Freshman
  • No. 70 Isaia Thompson, Layton High, Redshirt Freshman
  • No. 73 Tanoa Togiai, Rigby High School, Junior
  • No. 76 Zereoue Williams, Mountain Pointe High, Junior

What Offensive Line Coach Jim Harding Had To Say About The Group After Spring Ball

The Utah offensive line will be returning three out of five starters from the season before with Keaton Bills and Sataoa Laumea moving on to the NFL. Additionally, after spring ball the Utes did have one notable departure to the transfer portal in Kolinu’u Faaiu.

Still, position coach Jim Harding has an interesting mix of very experienced players, guys who have been in the program for a long time and just haven’t had their shot yet, along with young guys that bring a crazy mixture of size and athleticism to choose from in order to get the best five on the field.

Interestingly enough, offensive line was one of the groups offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig was particularly enthusiastic about and Harding seems to share his sentiment.

“I paid him,” Harding joked about Ludwig’s praise. “I really am excited about this group. I think we are really athletic up front. We have a great amount of depth. I hope the kids all see where they fit in, the culture we’ve established with coach Whitt at the top. I’m excited about what we can do. We certainly have things we can improve upon and have to have a great offseason in the summer, but I like the progress we made through the five weeks.”

So, who are some of the guys Harding will be leaning on in 2024?

Caleb Lomu Has Turned Some Heads Despite Still Being Young

Harding and Utah have shown in the past they are not afraid to put freshmen, redshirt freshmen, or sophomores out on the line if they are truly good.

Last season, the Utes did exactly that with then-freshman Spencer Fano at the left tackle position- often considered the most important position on the line and did well.

At least early on after spring, it is sounding like Harding is prepared to do it again, this time with redshirt freshman Caleb Lomu who has been projected to move into that left tackle spot while Fano moves over to the right side.

“He’s going up against Connor O’Toole every single practice and that has been a humbling experience,” Harding said. “I think Connor has had a really great camp, but I think Caleb has held his own. Especially, considering he’s only a freshman and hasn’t been in the program for an entire calendar year yet. I’m really excited for what he’s going to do for us and overall, where I expect him to be when his career is over- I think he’s on the right track.”

Don’t Worry, Spencer Fano Has Continued To Impress Too

As mentioned above, Spencer Fano started last season as a freshman at left tackle for the Utes and was pretty successful. Harding anticipates with a year under his belt and the experience that comes with it, he’ll be even better in 2024.

“I think this kid has such a high expectation of himself that he wants to be perfect and because of that- any fundamental flaw that he maybe sees after a practice- it’s important and he addresses it,” Harding said. “It might be something as small as having his hands too wide in run blocking. The next day in practice you’ll see that it’s very intentional in terms of what he’s doing and trying to fix it. I think now that he has a season under his belt, the game is kind of slowing down a little bit. He’s anticipating things that maybe a year ago were new to him. Now he’s got a better understanding of what defenses are trying to do and I’m really excited about what he will do this fall.”

Two Long-Timers Made A Significant Push This Spring For The Utah Offensive Line

Harding was asked to name players who stood out to him during spring. The first two that came to mind were guys that have spent a significant amount of time with the Utes under Harding but haven’t quite had their shot just yet. Based off of what Harding had to say about them, maybe 2024 will be their year.

“A guy who played part time last year in Tanoa Togiai is a guy who stands out,” Harding said. He’s done a really nice job, had a great offseason and has really limited his mental errors. Another kid, Zereoue Williams, who was out all fall last year with an injury has done a nice job coming back at 317 lbs. and moving really well at both tackle spots. There are certainly some guys who have done a nice job. Those are just two who stand out off the top of my head.”

The Utah Offense Goes As The Utah Offensive Line Goes

A lot of people believe an offense is only as good as their quarterback and there is certainly some truth to that. However, if the QB doesn’t have adequate time to make the quick decisions necessary to execute plays, his talent often becomes moot. That is where having a strong offensive front becomes important and it’s something Harding and the Utes take a lot of pride in.

“I think every position coach feels their group is instrumental and they all are,” Harding said. “With five guys being on the field at one time- I think in a lot of ways- it’s how the offensive line is protecting, the pass game will be better, or if we’re run blocking, the run game will be better. If we’re not, then, we’re going to struggle. I do feel that not only how the offensive line plays in a lot of ways- that’s not just going to affect the offense, but also the team overall. I think the guys in the room understand that.”

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Spring Ball Review: A Look At Utah Football’s Offensive Line