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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

On the Beden-trail

Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh instructs players along the sideline at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 12 as the Wildcats beat NAU. The coach lives and breaths football, turning the offensive line into one of the team?s strongest units.
Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh instructs players along the sideline at Arizona Stadium on Sept. 12 as the Wildcats beat NAU. The coach lives and breaths football, turning the offensive line into one of the team?s strongest units.

Some coaches say that football is life. It consumes every ounce of their energy and is on their minds at all times. Frankly, it’s a twisted lifestyle.

But for Arizona offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh, to say that football is life is an understatement.

“”Outside of football? Nothing. This is my life,”” Bedenbaugh said. “”When you coach the offensive, you know, I go home and I sit there, and I lay in bed and I think about how I’m going to block (UCLA defensive lineman) Brian Price. As the offensive line goes, that’s how the team goes.””

To eat, drink, sleep and breathe football is something that few people can ever really endure, but even fewer people have adopted the lifestyle and turned it into a successful coaching career.

Bedenbaugh has made an art out of it, and he’s commandeered one of the most successful offensive lines in the country.

“”I think he’s just a really good coach,”” said offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes. “”He’s done a great job. He’s just got the guys playing together and really strong as a group. I think they’re really just committed and they’re playing really well right now.””

Media attention has surrounded quarterback Nick Foles and running back Nic Grigsby this season, but none of that would be possible if the men up front weren’t doing such a good job.

Consistent and cohesive offensive line play is difficult to achieve, especially considering the amount of injuries that the unit has endured this season. Several players have even had to switch positions, leading to several different starting lines each Saturday.

And the average fan would never know — which is a good thing.

“”They’ve done a good job considering the movement and the injuries,”” Bedenbaugh said. “”That’s a credit to those guys. They prepare themselves in the film room and they understand what everybody’s doing.””

Learning several positions at once sounds challenging, but it’s been pretty easy for this year’s linemen — whether they intended it to be that way or not.

“”It’s almost hard not to know (other o-line positions),”” junior center Colin Baxter said. “”We hear it over and over and over again in practice, and a lot of times we’re working with (the other positions) anyway.””

Bedenbaugh sounds like a no-nonsense kind of coach, but it’s quite the opposite.

“”I think he can relate to (his linemen) very well,”” Dykes said. “”He obviously has a background in what we’re doing offensively and believes in it. He understands that that’s where everything starts for us offensively is up front, and he’s really done a good job.””

A former collegiate player at Iowa Wesleyan, Bedenbaugh has realized that the best way to teach his players is to work them hard, but also keep them relaxed. The mindset of an offensive lineman is a unique one — they work as long and as hard as any other unit on the team, but they get the least amount of attention.

“”The offensive line is everyone working together, and coach Bill does a great job getting us ready,”” Baxter said of his offensive line coach. “”Going through film with him, going over (defensive) looks, blitzes, all that kind of stuff.

“”He’s an intense guy,”” Baxter added. “”Every good offensive line coach is. You have to have that kind of focus. He’s intense, but a lot of times he gets funny. We joke around and we have a good time.””

And, of course, Bedenbaugh’s all-football, all-the-time attitude is well-known by his players.

“”Outside of football?”” Baxter laughed when asked about his coach’s extracurricular activities. “”Does he do anything outside of football?””

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