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Arizona football: Offensive line speaks up

Group promises to be nasty; 'it's not pretty; it's down and dirty'
2012-08-15T00:00:00Z 2014-10-10T11:27:20Z Arizona football: Offensive line speaks upRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 15, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Consolation was hard to come by in the hours following Saturday's scrimmage at Fort Huachuca.

The Arizona Wildcats' defense was thumped by its offensive teammates, a 6-yards-per-play beat-down that provided a gut-check to those who don blue jerseys in practice.

Amid the frustration, however, the Wildcats' defenders had a revelation.

"Our offense is going to be one of the best in the Pac," said linebacker Jake Fischer, who spent most of Saturday's scrimmage chasing ball-carriers. "They're senior-driven, and they have heavy leadership."

The biggest leaders, in fact, might be the heaviest guys. The UA will open its season Sept. 1 against Toledo boasting a core group of offensive linemen that are both experienced and comfortable with each other.

Consider: The five starters in Saturday's scrimmage - center Kyle Quinn, guards Trace Biskin and Chris Putton and tackles Mickey Baucus and Lene Maiava - have a combined 71 games of college experience and have started 44 of them. The veteran group doesn't include Fabbians Ebbele, who played in 12 games - starting 11 of them - as a redshirt freshman last fall. Ebbele was suspended for all of spring drills while facing assault charges but was reinstated before the start of training camp. Since then, he's been battling various injuries.

The Star talked to the Wildcats' projected starters and coaches about what to expect this season. Here's what they said, in their own words:

On the line as a group

Head coach Rich Rodriguez: "We've got some good players. we've got to get a little tougher, a little harder edge up front. We have some experience, so I don't know how deep we are."

On having a 'hard edge' and being physical

Left tackle Mickey Baucus: "Being an offensive lineman, you have to be nasty. You can't be a nice guy all the time. That's also how I was raised: If you're going to do something, do it all the way."

Center Kyle Quinn: "That's what being an offensive lineman is all about. It's not pretty; it's down and dirty. You don't get any rewards for it other than W's. We have to instill that in the younger guys."

On Arizona's new spread-option offense

Offensive line coach Robert Anae: "Nothing changes, no matter what offense you run. Nothing changes. You block on runs, you block on passes. There's not one change. Now, the terms are different, the schemes are different … but nothing changes in the game of football up front.

"It's really that simple. We don't have plays where guys don't block anybody. There's no such thing."

Quinn: "In the spring when (coaches) first got here, they told us it was going to be fast, be up-tempo. It doesn't have to be pretty with this offense; it has to be dirty, it has to be nasty, it has to be aggressive. You can't be timid when you're trying to run-block or pass-block in this offense."

On Quinn and Biskin, the unit's two seniors

Anae: "Those two have pushed the culture. They were the ones that invested in the summer, and they're the ones that, really, this team is their team. But we're not relying on our experience. We're relying on our toughness, our hard edge and our work ethic."

Quinn: "Me and Trace have been here for a long time now, and we have a lot of experience playing next to each other and growing up and being there for each other. We have to instill that into the younger guys. The other guys that do have experience, we can develop them into leaders as well."

On being leaders heading into the 2012 season...

Baucus: "We kinda have to be. We're one of the more experienced groups; we have the camaraderie from last year. We know what it's like on game day. You definitely develop a chemistry taking hundreds or thousands of snaps next to a guy. You know how they play and how they're going to be. But also you have to be ready at a moment's notice if somebody goes down.

On Maiava, a redshirt freshman and the newest member of the line

Baucus: "I like Lene. He's going 100 miles an hour all the time. He's ready to step in if we need him to."

Quinn: "He's come a long way in two years. He is an athletic kid. They breed them well in (American) Samoa. …

"He's always had the physical tools, but now he's starting to understand schemes and un- derstand the tendencies of the defense. He's getting better every day."

Training camp: Day 11

At Kindall/Sancet Stadium

• Temperature at start: 86 degrees at 8 a.m.; 92 degrees at 6 p.m. Tuesday night's practice was shortened by rain; it marked the first time all camp that weather was a factor.

• Walk-on watch: Christian Upshaw joined the team in fall 2011. Now a senior, Upshaw - a transfer from Western New Mexico University - hopes to compete for playing time on a thin defensive line. The 6-foot-2-inch, 247-pound defensive lineman grew up in Phoenix and attended Avondale's La Joya Community High School.

• The big number: 17. The UA's 2013 recruiting class ranks 17th nationally, according to Scout.com's latest list. Much of that has to do with the sheer number of players who have already verbally committed: The Wildcats landed their 25th recruit, defensive end Luca Bruno, on Saturday.

Wildcats' projected starting 5 on OL

• Left tackle Mickey Baucus: The 6-foot-8-inch, 303-pound behemoth started all 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2011 and is slated for bigger things this fall. The rangy, nasty Baucus might be the Wildcats' best long-term pro prospect.

• Left guard Chris Putton: The former Glendale Cactus High School product has played in 15 games over the last two seasons, with nine starts coming a year ago.

• Center Kyle Quinn: Dean of the offensive line, he has started 13 consecutive games, starting with the UA's Alamo Bowl loss to Oklahoma State in 2010. The 6-foot-3-inch, 300-pound Quinn was an honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection a year ago. He is pursuing graduate work as a fifth-year senior.

• Right guard Trace Biskin: A late-bloomer, he started the final 10 games of the 2011 season and has played in 11 total games in his first three years. The 6-foot-5-inch, 292-pound Biskin graduated in May with a degree in political science; he's currently pursuing a graduate degree in international security.

• Right tackle Lene Maiava: The pride of Tafuna, American Samoa, he redshirted in 2011. Maiava is athletic for his size (6-5, 277 pounds) and instantly a projectable player.

Arizona's offensive line, by the numbers

71

Combined games played by Arizona's five projected starters on the offensive line.

44

The group's combined career starts. Center Kyle Quinn leads the group with 13.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 3 0 0.769
USC 6 3 0 0.667 8 4 0 0.667
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 12 1 0 0.923
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 7 5 0 0.583
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 5 0 0.615
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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