Pac-12 Football Preview: 2014 Utah Utes Defensive Line
It may seem like the summer just got here and the college football season is still a long way off, but a new year of football is creeping up faster than you might realize. While we wait for the season to get here, we will look at the different positions and skill groups around the Pac-12 Conference starting today with the Utah Utes and more specifically, their defensive line. For the last two decades, Utah's defensive line has dominated opponents under Kyle Whittingham's watch.
Whittingham began his time with Utah as the defensive line coach and then became the coordinator before spending the last nine years as the program's head coach. This year's D-line, managed by defensive line coach Ilaisa Tuiaki, will be one of the Utes' toughest ever.
Explosive defensive end Nate Orchard (6-4, 255) has not missed a game since his true freshman season and is primed for an all-conference senior season, while junior defensive end Jason Fanaika (6-3, 270) will make his eagerly-awaited Utah debut. Interchangeable tackles Viliseni Fauonuku (5-10, 285, Jr.), Sese Ianu (6-2, 290, Sr.) and Stevie Tu'ikolovatu (6-1, 320, So.) are a disruptive force in the middle.
The coaches hope that Lowell Lotulelei (6-1, 310, Fr.) follows in the footsteps of older brother Star Lotulelei, a two-time first-team All-Pac-12 defensive tackle for Utah who became a first-round NFL draft pick and a starter for the Carolina Panthers.
Coach Whittingham Says
"As always, we expect the defensive line to be a strong suit for us. Returning starter Nate Orchard should be one of the best ends in the Pac-12 this year and we have size, physicality and quickness along the entire front."
Utah Utes' Names To Know
Portions of this article may contain materials or information provided courtesy of the Utah Utes athletic department.