ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Golden turns 'utility player' to help defense shine

2010-04-06T00:00:00Z 2014-09-15T09:03:52Z Golden turns 'utility player' to help defense shineRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 06, 2010 12:00 am  • 

Robert Golden is in a unique position because, really, he doesn't have just one.

On some plays, the Arizona Wildcats' junior-to-be is a safety - the position he played throughout the 2009 season. On others, he's a cornerback. He can play nickel back or a dime back, too, depending on the situation.

"Robert, he's a jack of all trades right now," co-defensive coordinator Greg Brown said. "He's unique."

Golden is expected to play a little bit of each position Saturday, when the Cats hold their annual Spring Game at Arizona Stadium.

Much of Arizona's defensive identity will hinge on how well players like Golden can adapt to new positions and roles.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pounder has experience at all the secondary positions. As one of just four defensive starters, Golden will be relied on to know the attack top to bottom.

Coach Mike Stoops said Golden is "kind of a utility player."

Golden said he's happy to play where he's needed.

"Learning the defense and all aspects of it is really helping me at all positions," Golden said after Monday's practice at Salpointe Catholic High School. "Playing every position helps me because I know where my teammates are going to be."

Golden was stellar in 2009, his first year as the UA's starting strong safety. Playing in all 13 games, Golden registered 41 tackles. He intercepted two passes, returning them for a total of 93 yards.

Golden likely would have stayed at safety full time if not for an offseason coaching change.

Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops left the team following the Wildcats' Holiday Bowl loss to Nebraska for a similar job at Florida State. Arizona replaced him with Brown and Tim Kish, and installed a new-look attack.

Together, they've designed nickel, dime and hybrid packages to neutralize the Pac-10's pass-happy offenses.

Golden's versatility makes him a natural fit in every wrinkle: He played cornerback at Edison High School in Fresno, Calif., and nickelback during his first season at the UA.

"Any time you go to five or six DBs, somebody's got to play a new position - either nickel or dime," Brown said. "We don't know if it's going to be him, but Robert's one of our strong candidates.

"He's got a versatility about him. He's smart. He understood the deal at safety last year and picked up all the calls, and he understands the safety position. That's a real plus for him."

Golden, 19, said he isn't quite sure what positions lie in his future - though he might just play all of them.

"I feel like more of a corner, but at safety - I know I can help the team out there, too," he said. "I think I'll be a safety and a nickel and a dime player. If they need me at corner, I can jump over to corner, too."

Foster re-injures knee

For the second time in less than a week, the Arizona Wildcats have lost a player to a knee injury.

Safety Tito Foster injured his surgically repaired right knee during Monday morning's practice and is out indefinitely.

Foster's knee buckled when he landed awkwardly following an interception in team drills. Foster limped off the field in obvious pain; coach Mike Stoops said he hopes the injury was just a sprain.

"He's had problems with his knee all spring," Stoops said.

Foster is the second Wildcat to suffer a knee injury in the last four days. Right tackle Phillip Garcia left Thursday's practice after spraining his surgically repaired right knee. Garcia was not at practice on Friday because of a death in the family, Stoops said, but is expected to return to the team sometime this week.

Ryan Finley

Up next

• What: Spring Game

• Where: Arizona Stadium

• When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
USC 6 2 0 0.750 7 3 0 0.700
UCLA 5 2 0 0.714 8 2 0 0.800
ASU 5 2 0 0.714 8 2 0 0.800
Arizona 5 2 0 0.714 8 2 0 0.800
Utah 4 3 0 0.571 7 3 0 0.700
Colorado 0 7 0 0.000 2 8 0 0.200

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Oregon 6 1 0 0.857 9 1 0 0.900
Stanford 3 4 0 0.429 5 5 0 0.500
Cal 3 5 0 0.375 5 5 0 0.500
Washington State 2 5 0 0.286 3 7 0 0.300
Washington 2 5 0 0.286 6 5 0 0.545
Oregon State 2 5 0 0.286 5 5 0 0.500
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