More than any other position on the team, starting doesn't mean as much on the defensive line. At least on the Utah football team.
The Utes' philosophy is that fresh bodies are needed on the D-line more than anywhere else. That's because defensive linemen work extra hard fighting off blocks, chasing the quarterback and being the first line of defense against running backs."Pass rushing is the hardest thing to do. You need fresh meat in there," said defensive line coach Steve Kaufusi, whose two younger brothers happen to be two of Utah's best defenders.
Of course, a team has to have
plenty of talent to be able to roatate its linemen, and the Utes believe they do.
"We're trying to come up with eight defensive linemen," said defensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham, who coached the defensive line last year. "It's a very tough act to follow, replacing the best defensive lineman in America."
He's referring, of course, to all-American Luther Elliss, who atleast was one of the best in the country and now makes millions for the Detroit Lions. The Utes also lost Bronzell Miller, who has been playing well for the St. Louis Rams in the preseason.
But Miller didn't even start for half of last season for the Utes, a good case in point of the Utes' philosophy. He rotated for much of the time with Nate Kia, who will be back for his junior season.
Two other linemen who started most of last year are the Kaufusi brothers, 6-6, 255-pound end Jeff and 6-2, 270-pound Henry. Taking Elliss' place on the defensive line is 6-1, 292-pound Toele Fa'amoe.
A couple of impressive newcomers, Pene Talamaivao, a 293-pound Prop. 48 sophomore and Michael Baulkman, a JC transfer who redshirted last year, will see a lot of time. Others competing to move into the eight-man rotation are Louie DeCastro, a part-time starter last year, Chad Kauhaahaa, Vince Tauanuu, Mike Wilson and freshmen Ben Bowers and Chad Pierce.
Ute coach Ron McBride is pleased with his defensive line, saying, "We're stronger and have more speed. We have a chance to be real good there."