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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Freshman Baxter helps anchor O-line

    UA left guard Colin Baxter (64) creates a hole for tailback Nicolas Grigsby (23) during the Wildcats 48-20 rout of Washington State on Saturday at Arizona Stadium. Baxter was named a starter on the offensive line after Arizonas season-opening loss at Brigham Young.
    UA left guard Colin Baxter (64) creates a hole for tailback Nicolas Grigsby (23) during the Wildcats’ 48-20 rout of Washington State on Saturday at Arizona Stadium. Baxter was named a starter on the offensive line after Arizona’s season-opening loss at Brigham Young.

    The offensive line is typically not a position that freshmen master well enough to get a significant amount of playing time. But for Colin Baxter, it wasn’t just a hope, it was an expectation.

    After redshirting last year, Baxter said he came into this season
    believing he’d have a considerable role on the offensive front, and just two weeks into the season, he was named the starting left guard.

    “”I expected to put myself in a position – even if I wasn’t starting – to at least get a good amount of playing time and I would be disappointed in myself if I wasn’t,”” Baxter said. “”I didn’t know exactly how it was going to happen, or when it was going to happen, I knew I was capable of taking up a spot.””

    Baxter replaced sophomore Daniel Borg following Arizona’s season-opening loss against Brigham Young, and since the offensive line hasn’t skipped a beat. After giving up two sacks to BYU, the line has surrendered five sacks in four games.

    The unit had struggled facilitating the run game leading into last weekend’s 48-20 victory over Washington State, when the Wildcats broke out for 221 rushing yards.

    Offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes said the offensive line is the most important unit on the field when it comes to players relying on one another.

    “”Just the physical part of the game is tough at that age, and mentally it is probably tougher,”” he said. “”In this offensive line there is a lot of responsibility. There are a lot of one-on-one battles so you have to be consistent, and you have to know what you are doing assignment-wise.””

    Dykes added, “”I think it is a real credit to (Baxter) that he is playing as well as he is as a freshman.””

    After a 2006 season in which the line had a hard time protecting the quarterback and providing adequate holes for the running game, it has continued to set the standard for
    the offense.

    After suffering a series of head injuries resulting from big hits last season, quarterback Willie Tuitama said he was impressed with the time the line is giving him, as well as Baxter’s evolution as a fixture on the offensive front.

    “”He is doing really good, to tell you the truth,”” Tuitama said. “”He has helped out big time. He is an aggressive kid, and, basically, he just wants to play. He is in there knocking people around and pushing guys over, so just having him on the offensive line is good for us.””

    Dykes said it’s difficult to be a later addition to the offensive line, but added that Baxter has done a good job keeping up the slack while maintaining the unit’s positive morale.

    “”To me, that’s the most important position to be able to count on each other and rely on each other, and I think Baxter has earned their trust and deservingly so,”” Dykes said.

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