July 18, 2006

2006 Fall camp preview: Defensive line

Editor's note: Fall camp is less than two weeks away, and as the Utes gear up for the season, UteZone.com is gearing up to give you all of the information you need to follow the 2006 Utes. Today we take our first look at a critical area for the Utes to have success: the defensive line.

2005 in Review

Last season was a tale of two halves for the Utah defensive front. Over the first six games of the season, Utah was 3-3, while giving up 164 yards and nearly 2 rushing touchdowns a game averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The final six games saw the defensive line solidify their play, cutting 25 yards a game off the rushing numbers. Opponents over those final six games ran for 139 yards a game, 1 touchdown, and a 3.8 average per carry. It is no coincidence that Utah went 4-2 in that span.

Utah's early season problems can be traced not only to losing two quality starters to the NFL, but also a devastating pre-season injury to returning starter and All-Conference caliber defensive end Marquess Ledbetter. When Ledbetter tore his quadriceps tendon before the start of fall camp, Utah lost not only a quality starter, but also lost any plans there might have been to redshirt JC transfer Soli Lefiti or ease him into the position by seeing time as a backup. Depth along the entire line also became an issue, as players were shuffled around a bit when Ledbetter went down, along with talented freshman Randy Faletoi injuring his back and JC transfer Tolifili Liufau never materializing.

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