It's all starts on the lines.
That is what most any football coach would say makes a good football team. Whether it is the protection of a team's quarterback, opening holes for running backs on the offensive side of the ball or doing everything a team can to counteract those things from the defensive side, every play starts on the lines.
For 2011, Utah State's defensive line will have a new look, as the defensive front seven will make the conversion from the 4-3 defense that has been run in years' past to a 3-4, putting one less defensive lineman on the field at all times and demanding more push up front from the three lineman out there.
That challenge of learning to play in a new defensive scheme will be coupled with the task of replacing the production from six graduating lettermen who saw significant time on the D-line last year, losing would-be sophomore Jason Fanaika to a mission and sophomore D.J. Tialavea to the offensive side of the ball, where he'll play tight end.
Replacing eight players at any position will come with its challenges, but new defensive line coach Frank Maile is optimistic that the unit as a whole can develop into one of the team's strengths by the time the season rolls around.
"I have three returning players who have played a Division I snap," Maile said. "So they have a long ways to go, but there's a lot of promise there."