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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Kerley now a leader from Arizona’s sidelines

    Center Blake Kerley remembers exactly what happened on the play that will force him to miss the remainder of the season, he just prefers not to watch the film.

    “”I purposely avoided it on Monday,”” Kerley said of watching the game film. “”I don’t really want to see it. I don’t ever really want to see it, and hopefully it can stay that way.””

    When Arizona traveled to the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA on Sept. 20, Kerley remembers blocking his man in one direction only for running back Nic Grigsby to cut back to the right behind him. When Kerley moved to cut off his man, a Bruin defender dove for Grigsby and simultaneously landed on Kerley’s left knee.

    Kerley tore his anterior cruciate ligament on the play and will miss the remainder of the season while waiting for surgery to repair his knee.

    “”I have never been under the knife like that before, so I don’t want to say I am nervous as much as I am anxious to get going and get it over with and try and get back as soon as possible,”” Kerley said.

    When the injury first happened, Kerley knew it was painful, but he wasn’t necessarily ready to concede to the injury.

    “”It was kind of weird. It hurt really bad and they were helping me off the field, and before I got off the field I was walking and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was,”” Kerley said. “”I got up, started moving around and the doctors were like, ‘You can’t go in,’ and I’m like ‘Why not?’

    “”(They asked) ‘Can you jump?’ and I did, then they asked if I could do it just (on my left leg), and I jumped up and I hit the ground and I just sat down,”” Kerley added. “”It just shot up and down my leg, and I knew it was pretty serious.””

    The loss of Kerley won’t just be a matter of replacing a veteran, but a major challenge for the Wildcats given his previous streak of 28 consecutive starts could be the reason he had the biggest aptitude for the offensive line schemes on the team.

    This may also be the reason for his role change to that of a coaching figure.

    What started as a joke among his teammates could turn into a reality. Kerley’s vast knowledge of the game can still be used as an asset for a line that must be rearranged to compensate for the loss of the center. The junior will be taken on all of Arizona’s remaining road trips.

    Kerley, who was previously in charge of making sure each player had his signals correct in terms of who to block in the games, is now referred to by some as “”coach Kerley.””

    But not without the proper equipment.

    “”I told the equipment guys if I am going to be out here, I want a hat and a watch and when we travel I want a belt,”” Kerley joked. “”You know that the guys that are really coaches, they get the Arizona belt. It started off as a joke, but now I have all the strength coaches calling me Coach Kerley.”” Joke or not, Kerley will still be needed by his teammates.

    Colin Baxter will be moved over to center to replace the injured junior and Mike Diaz will take over the spot Baxter leaves open at left guard. Baxter took over at center for the remainder of the UCLA game and he got in late in a few games last season, so he isn’t completely new to the position.

    Even so, Baxter and the rest of the offensive line will continue to lean on Kerley while they adjust to play without the junior.

    “”I am just trying to step in there and do the best I can and I think we will be all right,”” Baxter said. “”He is doing what he can. It is just really unfortunate.””

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