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A clip from the Fresno State game has been shared reverently on social media among Utah fans this week.

On a snap against the Bulldogs, Lowell Lotulelei and Seni Fauonuku are in sync as they push back the Fresno State guard and center into the running back's lap. It's less of a "tackle for a loss" and more akin to the two Utah tackles erecting a human wall to stop the run.

Jason Fanaika called the play "spectacular." Kyle Whittingham called it "very impressive."

And it wasn't Lotulelei's top play of the night.

"Lowell actually had another one where he was able to shoot in fast," Stevie Tu'ikolovatu said. "He was able to take the guard, both pullers and the running back all in one. He's a monster."

Whittingham admitted Monday that he would like to add more quarterback pressure for Saturday's game at Oregon. But Utah's defensive line unit feels very much like they've been doing their job in this defense. And while the Utes no longer have their sack master in Nate Orchard, they still have Lotulelei — who coaches and teammates say is as capable of blowing up a backfield as anyone in the country.

A year after being named a freshman All-American, Lotulelei's ability is critical to Utah's scheme. And though he has an older brother who had a pretty good run at Utah, he's demonstrated that his game has its own merits.

"Yeah, he's Star's younger brother, but he's his own guy," Whittingham said. "Lowell is just really scratching the surface of his potential. He's just a true sophomore, and I think he's got a lot of upside. Before he's done here, he's going to make a big impact."

Like many defensive tackles, sometime that impact is not so obvious: So far, Lotulelei has been credited with 8 tackles. He doesn't have a sack or a forced fumble to his credit.

But the tape tells all about his game: Looking back on Lotulelei's performances often reveal him collapsing a pocket in the middle, or smashing a blocker. On Utah's final stop against Michigan in the tail minutes of the game, he tore open a gap for Gionni Paul to jump into for a huge tackle on 4th and 1.

Fresno State was so frustrated by Lotulelei, the offense started having the running back chip block — a desperate move to stall penetration.

"When you get [Lowell] in there," Fanaika said, "the knockback is going to be epic."

Lotulelei entered the program with high expectations, and didn't disappoint. Upperclassmen say he didn't miss assignments like a rookie. He was naturally strong, so he could always perform in the weight room. Once he got a feel for the speed, he adapted to a starting role.

The criticism of Lotulelei, coaching and otherwise, was that he wasn't always finishing plays. That's been a point of emphasis this past offseason.

"Coach [John] Pease is big on running to the ball," Lotulelei said. "That's definitely something we've worked on, and I think it's part of everyone's mindset. I know I have to get better."

Adjusting to that mindset wasn't always easy: Star Lotulelei Sr., Lowell's father, said that the offseason departure of Kalani Sitake and Ilaisa Tuiaki were hard on him. He'd developed a close relationship with the coaches — a big reason why he was able to get over his initial reluctance to follow in his brother's footsteps at Utah.

Learning under Pease and new graduate assistant Sione Pouha, Lotulelei struggled at times, Star Sr. said. But Whittingham remained close to him, offering advice and encouragement.

Three games into the season, it seems Lowell has reached a comfort level. He commutes from his parents' home in South Jordan, deciding on-campus life wasn't for him. Star Sr. notices his son has worked harder in the weight room and on conditioning, he's studying playbooks and film, and he's more diligent about school work.

While he may still look like he's carrying a bit of his mission weight, he's committed to growing physically and mentally.

"He always thought it was good that his brother did what he did to make a name for himself, but he knows he can't ride that," Star Sr. said. "He has to do it on his own. And I think he really enjoys it now. He loves to be at the U."

Whittingham hopes that Utah's defensive line can get the same knockback this week against Oregon, saying it would go a long way to scoring an upset in Eugene.

With Lotulelei growing and maturing in Year 2, that hope has a little bit of foundation.

"He's definitely stepped up to that role this year a lot more than he did last year," Fauonuku said. "He's still a doughboy, but he's a doughboy beast."

Twitter: @kylegoon —

About Lowell Lotulelei

• Was a freshman All-American according to Scout and USA Today

• Had 33 tackles, including 4 sacks and a forced fumble in 2014

• A Semper Fi All-American and No. 2 ranked in-state prospect in 2012

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