We continue our series looking at the positions of strength and need in the Pac-12. Next up are the Utah Utes.
Position of strength: The line of scrimmage
How this unit is shaping up heading into 2016: Football is won at the line of scrimmage? Well, no Pac-12 team heads into the 2016 season better off on both the offensive and defensive lines than Utah, which welcomes back four starters on offense and three starters -- and good depth -- on defense. For one, Utah is the only team that welcomes back a first- or second-team All-Pac-12 defensive lineman (Lotulelei), and Dimick was a preseason pick in 2015 before injuries ruined his season. On the plus side, those injury issues gave Kylie Fitts plenty of quality experience in his stead. Though USC sets up better on the offensive line, Dielman (second-team All-Pac-12) and Asiata (honorable mention) lead a crew of five with significant starting experience. While center Siaosi Aiono is gone, Hiva Lutui made two of his eight starts last year at center while going back and forth with Salesi Uhatafe at guard.
Position of need: The passing game
How this unit is shaping up heading into 2016: Everyone knows that QB Travis Wilson, a rare four-year starter, is gone, but the Utes also lose their top four pass-catchers from 2015. Moreover, the fifth leading receiver was a tight end and the Utes ranked 11th in the Pac-12 in passing in any event, with just 180 yards per game and 15 TDs. So passing is an entirely rebuilding aspect for Utah, and it's been a weakness since the Utes joined the conference. Smith, a sophomore, is the leading returning receiver with 18 catches for 193 yards and no touchdowns last year. Dana is a juco transfer with good size. Williams is also a juco transfer who made one previous career start at Washington. However things play out, the Utes will be young and inexperienced at wideout this season, which won't make things easy for a new starting QB.