Sep 1, 2011; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Utah Utes defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (92) against the Montana State Bobcats at Rice Eccles Stadium. Utah defeated Montana State 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Pac-12 Conference Football Preview: Utah Utes (Part 2: Defense)


The Utah Utes defense looked pretty good in their first season of Pac-12 play. In their five losses in 2011 (all Pac-12 losses), the Utah defense gave up an average of 28 points per game as their worst losses came against the Washington Huskies (31-14), the Arizona State Sun Devils (35-14), and the California Golden Bears (34-10). In their eight wins in 2011 (four of them being Pac-12 wins), the Utes only gave up an average of 15.4 points per game with their closest wins coming in overtime fashion as they beat the Washington State Cougars and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets by a score of 30-27.

According to a press release issued by the Utah athletics department, one of the the strengths for the Utah defense heading into the 2012 season is their defensive line.

The one player that will need to become the main leader of the defensive line for the Utes this season will be Star Lotulelei. Last season, Lotulelei played in all thirteen games at defensive tackle where he racked up nine tackles for loss (26 yards), 1.5 sacks (12 yards), and forced one fumble. He was also an All-American candidate, first-team All-Pac-12, and won the Morris Award. Lotulelei could have entered the 2012 NFL Draft, but decided to stay in school in order to get his college degree.

The head coach of the Utes, Kyle Wittingham, had this to say about Lotulelei:

 

“He is the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12 and maybe the best interior defensive lineman in the country. He demands double- and even triple-teams, which allows our linebackers the freedom to make a lot of plays. Even though his stats were not overwhelming, the fact that his peers voted him the outstanding lineman in the league speaks volumes about his ability.”

 

The one weakness listed in the press release by Utah’s athletics department is their linebackers. One of the leaders to make sure this “weakness” does not hurt the Utes this season will have to be Trevor Reilly. Last season, Reilly recorded 47 total tackles, nine tackles for loss (76 yards), five sacks (39 yards), two fumble recoveries, and forced four fumbles.

Trevor Reilly will hope to get some help however out of upperclassmen Dave Fagergren and Victor Spikes.

For more stories on Utah, check out Hoyo’s Revenge.

Check out my vlog The Onside Kick on YouTube and Facebook. The Onside Kick covers all the biggest stories in the NBA, NCAA Basketball, NFL, NCAA Football, NHL and MLB.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @RickyWidmer.

Follow the Autzen Zoo on Twitter @Autzen_Zoo and like us on Facebook at Autzen_Zoo.

Upcoming Autzen Zoo Pac-12 Conference Football Previews:

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: 2012 NFL Draft All-American Arizona State Sun Devils California Golden Bears Dave Fagergren First-team All-Pac-12 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Kyle Wittingham Morris Award Pac-12 Pac-12 Conference Trevor Reilly Utah Utah Football Utah Utes Victor Spikes Washington Huskies Washington State Cougars