Led by 3 returning starters, Utah’s offensive line should be a strong point

Utah’s offensive line is set up to be a strong point this season.
Three of Utah’s starting offensive linemen from last season are back — junior left guard Keaton Bills, sophomore right guard Michael Mokofisi and junior right tackle Sataoa Laumea. Paul Maile, who started all 14 games at center, transferred to BYU and left tackle Braeden Daniels was drafted by the Washington Commanders.
Bills, Mokofisi and Laumea will be the starters again heading in 2023, providing continuity and leadership for the position group.
“Certainly those are the guys that I’m going to rely on. They’re the ones that have the most experience. They know how things are to be ran. They should act as if there’re additional coaches out there. And that’s the expectations that have been laid out in front of them,” Harding said.
Bills and Laumea were named to the preseason All-Pac-12 first team.
“I really think the offensive line is a strength with all the returning snaps that those players have accumulated,” Utah offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig said.
That leaves two starting spots open — center and left tackle. That left tackle spot, in particular, is such a vital spot — protecting the blind slide of quarterback Cam Rising, who throws right-handed.
“We all know the significance of a defender hitting the quarterback from the blind side,” Harding said. “And so what you need to be there is to be an elite pass protector. I thought the last couple years we’ve had those guys and certainly that, outside of the center position, is another spot that we need to solidify sooner rather than later.”
Harding is looking at a multitude of players to fill the left tackle position in a deep offensive line room — Falcon Kaumatule, Spencer Fano, Zereoue Williams, Jaren Kump and Caleb Lomu will be looked at for the left tackle and center positions, and Sataoa Laumea could be moved from right tackle to left tackle.
The picture should become a lot clearer for those two open spots as we enter the second week of camp next week.
Utah has plenty of depth to work with in the position room.
“We’ve got four guys that have started games in the room,” Harding said, referring to Bills, Mokofisi, Laumea and Kump.
“Now certainly you have a bigger body of work with those four guys and I feel really comfortable with them, but I do feel that there’s another three, four, five guys that I feel can do it, but just haven’t done it at a consistent level in a game, which is in completely different variable. But that being said, I do think that there’s a lot of talent in that room and now it’s going to be how quickly can we get that group together? And then obviously they got to perform on in first game.”
Bills, whose wife Sydney gave birth to a boy during the offseason, joked on Wednesday that his “dad strength” is kicking in.
Utah’s offensive line room has gelled, with Bills feeling the cohesion in the group.
“I feel like every year we kind of get a little more advanced,” Bills said. “I feel like we have pretty good depth right now here at the O-line, a lot of guys who may not have started but were that close second and we’ve kind of hit the ground running so far. I feel like every year Coach Harding kind of trusts us a little bit more and every year we come out wanting more and doing more.”

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