Spenser Heaps, Deseret News
Defensive end Pita Taumoepenu, second from left, runs a drill during practice at the University of Utah practice fields in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016.
We're all going to play. It doesn't matter who starts. There's no drop off. So pretty much whoever we have out there is going to give the same effort. —Pasoni Tasini

SALT LAKE CITY — As good as Utah’s projected starters are on the defensive line, there’s enough depth to keep them from getting tired in games. The Utes have a three-man rotation of sorts up front.

Pita Taumoepenu backs Hunter Dimick and Kylie Fitts at end, while Pasoni Tasini spells Lowell Lotulelei and Filipo Mokofisi at tackle.

The senior reserves give Utah a luxury that defensive line coach Lewis Powell appreciates.

“That’s a good group of three guys that we could rotate out there and stay fresh,” he said.

Taumoepenu has played in all 26 games the past two seasons. The 6-foot-1, 245-pounder from Timpview High has made 82 tackles during that time and recorded 11.5 sacks.

Rotating in with Dimick and Fitts isn’t a problem.

“I feel like it’s great because it keeps all three of us fresh,” Taumoepenu said. “So every time we’re on the field, we’re going to go all out.”

Starting isn’t a big deal, either. Taumoepenu has done so just once in 33 career games at Utah.

“It doesn’t really matter,” he said. “We’re all going to get in and make the most of it.”

Tasini, a 6-foot-3, 295-pound transfer from Snow College, came off the bench in all seven of his appearances last season. He made three tackles and had an eight-yard sack in a win over Arizona State.

Stevie Tu’ikolovatu’s offseason transfer to USC will likely increase Tasini’s contributions in support of Lotulelei and Mokofisi.

“The three rotation that we have going is great. It took a lot of learning for me to go through last year,” Tasini said. “I learned a lot from all my coaches and the three-man rotation that we have with Lowell and Filipo, I think, it’s a great idea.”

As is the case with Taumoepenu, there’s no issue about coming off the bench,

“No. We’re all going to play. It doesn’t matter who starts,” Tasini said. “There’s no drop off. So pretty much whoever we have out there is going to give the same effort.”

Tasini added that throughout spring ball and fall camp everyone is working together to be the best they can be.

“I feel like we have good depth,” Tasini said. “Guys who know how to play and have good rotations so it should be good all round.”

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that the defensive line’s depth goes well beyond three at each position. The third-week depth chart includes freshman Bradlee Anae at left end and sophomore Alani Havili-Katoa at right tackle. Others, like newcomers Leki Fotu and Maxs Tupai, are also in the mix at one of Utah’s deepest positions.

Whittingham addressed such situations.

“Depth is awesome. It breeds competition,” he said. “It keeps everybody hungry and it keeps everyone on their toes. It’s a healthy thing.”

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