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Utah Utes football: D-line coach thrilled to be back at U.

Published: Wednesday, April 6 2011 12:16 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah football team made three changes to the coaching staff this spring, but nearly all of the attention has gone to the new offensive coordinator Norm Chow.

However, there is another Hawaiian native who is new to the staff in defensive line coach Chad Kauha'aha'a.

Kauha'aha'a is a former Ute defensive lineman (1993-96), who coached the past two years for Gary Andersen at Utah State after four years under Ron McBride at Weber State. He is thrilled to be back at his alma mater and happy to have some top talent to work with.

"I'm excited to be back home," he said. "This is where I started. This is a dream job of mine. You just don't get opportunities like this in a BCS league."

Although the Utes lost three starters off the defensive line in Christian Cox, Junior Tui'one and Sealver Siliga, Kauha'aha'a feels he has several talented players and a lot of depth at the position again this year.

"We are making very good progress regarding technique, which is what we're stressing this spring," he said. "They're grasping what is being taught and applying it to the field. We have very good depth right now."

It is so good that one of last year's starters, Dave Kruger, is listed as a backup now behind Star Lotuleilei and James Aiono, who are the starters at the tackle positions.

Derrick Shelby, who started as a freshman and half of the games last year, is one of three players vying for the starting end position, along with Tevita Finau and Joe Kruger.

Kauha'aha'a said Finau has been "very impressive" this spring and that Joe Kruger "had a huge game" in last week's scrimmage.

Kauha'aha'a said Dave Kruger and LT Tuipulotu are challenging for the inside spots, while David Rolf, a transfer from Michigan State, is a backup at the end spot.

Coach Kyle Whittingham is happy with the job Kauha'aha'a is doing so far.

"Coach K is doing a great job and is an excellent addition to our staff," he said. "There's been a lot of technique and fundamental improvement during the course of the spring."

As for himself, Kauha'aha'a is feeling comfortable already.

"The transition has been smooth," he said. "I was fortunate to work with two coaches who have the same philosophy as Kyle. It was an easy transition, especially coming from Gary, because a lot of things are similar here."

NO GO ON LOGO: When the Utes practiced at Rice-Eccles Stadium Tuesday, one of the two Pac-12 logos was supposed to be installed on the field with the other one to be installed Thursday.

However, due to a manufacturing issue, the installation of the Pac-12 logo where the Mountain West Conference logo used to be has been pushed back a week.

UTE NOTES: Several changes to the depth chart came out of last week's scrimmage. True freshman Tyler Shreve has moved ahead of sophomore Griff Robles as quarterback. Also redshirt freshman Dres Anderson has moved ahead of senior Reggie Dunn at Z receiver, while senior Dexter Ransom and freshman Kenneth Scott are battling at the X receiver spot with DeVonte Christopher out with a sore hamstring. … Three players, all freshmen, Terrell Reese, Damian Payne and Tyron Morris-Edwards are battling for the starting free safety spot. Sophomore Michael Walker had grabbed the starting spot at strong safety ahead of Quade Chappuis. … The second scrimmage of the spring will be Saturday at 10 a.m. … The second annual Ultimate Tailgate Championship will be held on April 16, the morning of the Red-White Game., which begins at 1 p.m. … Coach Whittingham will host a coaches clinic in conjunction with the spring game April 15-16. Friday will feature breakout sessions for high school coaches conducted by the Ute coaching staff. Then an on-field clinic with drill work will be held on Saturday morning before the game. For more information contact Aaron Alford at 801-647-2971.

email: sor@desnews.com

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