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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “Back from injury, Austin ‘ready to go'”

    Senior quarterback Adam Austin is examined by members of the Arizona training staff after injuring his left knee in the second quarter against Stanford on Oct. 14. Austin returned to practice last night and may play Saturday against Washington State.
    Senior quarterback Adam Austin is examined by members of the Arizona training staff after injuring his left knee in the second quarter against Stanford on Oct. 14. Austin returned to practice last night and may play Saturday against Washington State.

    Adam Austin finally got his chance this season. He had waited more than four years.

    But on Oct. 14, that chance came crashing down on him in the form of a Stanford defender, when Austin tore the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in the second quarter of Arizona’s 20-7 win that day over the Cardinal.

    “”I never could have been more ready than I was for Stanford,”” said the redshirt senior, who was 6-of-9 with 63 yards up to that point. “”I felt like I was just in a groove, and I was just seeing things really well. For that to happen, it was just really disappointing.””

    Added quarterback Willie Tuitama, who, like Austin, had been sidelined until recently: “”The thing is that he was getting into a rhythm, too. He was doing great, and then it happened.””

    The Mundelein, Ill., native returned to full practice for the first time last night, sporting a brace on the injured knee that he’ll have to wear for the remainder of the season.

    “”Today, it felt pretty good,”” Austin said. “”I don’t feel like we missed that much. It’s just a matter of me getting back to full speed, just trying to get my legs back and just getting back to moving on this knee.””

    Austin saw his dream to start at the Division I level realized Sept. 16 against Stephen F. Austin when he led Arizona to a 28-10 win over the Lumberjacks in place of an injured Tuitama, who was sidelined with a concussion he suffered the week prior against then-No. 8 Louisiana State.

    With limited experience entering the season, attempting just five passes in his first four years in the program, Austin set out before the season to prepare before each game like he was going to be the one taking all the snaps.

    It paid off, as Austin has seen action in five games this season, completing 52 percent of his passes for 402 yards and also throwing his first career touchdown pass after Tuitama’s second concussion of the season Oct. 7 at UCLA.

    “”He’s not afraid to take a shot,”” said wideout Mike Thomas, who caught that pass against the Bruins, of Austin. “”If he sees an opportunity that maybe could go this way or that way, he’s not afraid to take it. Willie, he’s more – not scared, but just trying to not make a mistake, trying to be mistake-free. Adam, he’ll take that chance, take a risk.

    “”Sometimes you’ve just got to throw it and let your receivers make a play,”” Thomas added. “”Willie does that too, but I think Adam, without a doubt, the first instinct he’ll do it.””

    Just a week after that UCLA game and his first career touchdown pass, elation turned into frustration when his knee took the hit on a pass that was picked off and returned 72 yards for a touchdown by Stanford cornerback Wopamo Osaisai.

    “”Of course he was mad,”” Tuitama said. “”He told me that he wanted to redeem himself after the pick, but he couldn’t because that’s the play that he got hurt on.

    “”But I know that if he gets a chance again, he’s going to make everything up.””

    After the game, Austin walked off the field under the aid of crutches, visibly upset.

    “”It’s very frustrating,”” he said at the time.

    The following week, his rehab began.

    “”I’ve been living in the training room, just trying to get the knee better, rehabbing it,”” he said. “”Whenever I’m not at school or in the office, I’m in there doing rehab on it. I’ve been spending a lot of time in there.””

    Though the injury didn’t require surgery – “”MCLs, they heal on their own I guess. All the tissues surrounding it helps it stay in place, so it reattaches itself,”” Austin said – it still kept him out for two weeks.

    But Austin, who said he expects to be available to play this weekend at Washington State, only missed one game, an Oct. 21, 17-10 loss to Oregon State. The team’s bye week over the weekend afforded his knee extra time to heal.

    “”I’ve been training hard to get back,”” Austin said, “”and hopefully – I mean, I don’t want Willie to go down, but if he does go down, I’ll be ready to go.””

    Even when he’s fully healed, Austin said the injury will likely linger in the back of his mind.

    “”It’s going to be there for a while,”” he said. “”The doctors are like, ‘This is something you’ve got to get used to and something you’ve got to be comfortable with.’

    “”It’s going to be there, so there’s nothing I can do about it. It’s not going to get any worse,”” he said.

    But that doesn’t mean that it’ll keep Austin from preparing the way he had been all season – like a starter.

    “”I’m going to keep doing what I always do,”” he said, “”and hopefully I’ll get in.””

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