Utah's all-WAC center Lance Scott is probably correct when he says that offensive linemen "only get recognized when they're doing bad." O-linemen are nearly always the most invisible and inconspicuous players on a football team, that is, until the quarterback gets sacked.
While that may be the case with the Utes' offensive line this year, it's going to get plenty recognized by its defensive opponents if it lives up to its preseason billing.With three starters and one part-time starter returning, along with some top backups, redshirts and recruits, the Utes look to be solid on the offensive line.
"This is probably the strongest group I've seen in the 12 years I've been associated with the program," said offensive line coach Don Eck. "They have size, strength and speed and are good athletes. They've got what it takes to be a great offensive line."
In fact Eck goes so far as to say it's better than the offensive line he coached at the University of Arizona a few years ago, one that included a current NFL player.
"A lot of lines have size, but this one has size with players that are better athletes," adds Eck.
Besides Scott, second-team all-WAC selection Anthony Brown is back at the left tackle spot along with four-year starter Roy Ma'afala and Kani Neves, who started some games a year ago, at guard. The left tackle position will be filled by Chris Rae, a JC transfer who redshirted last year and won the spot in spring ball.
Coach Ron McBride is also very high on his offensive line, but he cautions, "The key will be the backups and how we develop a few guys."
Dave Boghossian has made big strides since last year and could oust one of the returning starting guards, according to Eck. Tim Todd played in several games last year and can play any of the five line positions.
However, beyond the top seven, the Utes lack experience and that could be a problem if the top guys get injured.
"We'll be very good as long as we stay pretty healthy," said McBride.