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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

How transfer Freddie Tagaloa expects to provide stability to Arizona’s offensive line

Arizona+offensive+lineman+Freddie+Tagaloa%2C+number+72%2C+practices+among+his+teammates+on+Thursday%2C+Aug.+27.+Tagaloa+transferred+to+Arizona+after+the+2013+season.
Alex McIntyre

Arizona offensive lineman Freddie Tagaloa, number 72, practices among his teammates on Thursday, Aug. 27. Tagaloa transferred to Arizona after the 2013 season.

The last time Freddie Tagaloa stepped onto the football field for game day was Nov. 23, 2013 for California. Come Thursday night, he will return to the field in Wildcat red and blue.

The transfer is more than ready to get back on the field, and Arizona will immediately be relying on the offensive lineman to provide stable play at left tackle.

“Guys are getting tired of hitting each other so, you know, everybody’s itching to hit another guy in a different color,” Tagaloa said last week. “This week, heading into the game should be interesting. Guys know that the game is creeping up so hits could get a little harder.”

Tagaloa transferred to UA after the 2013 season and redshirted in 2014. He will be covering quarterback Anu Solomon’s blind side when the Wildcats take the field against UTSA on Thursday.

A four-star recruit, according to ESPN, Tagaloa played the 2012 and 2013 seasons at Cal where he played in 23 of 24 games and started in seven. He was voted a team captain as a sophomore.

While Tagaloa found success at Cal, the team itself struggled.

In his sophomore season, the Golden Bears finished the year 1-11, which included a 33-28 loss to Arizona. Tagaloa’s final game at Cal was a 63-13 blowout defeat to Stanford.

The 6-foot-8, 316 pound lineman then came to Arizona, reuniting him with offensive line coach Jim Michalczik.

Tagaloa has looked solid during fall camp and the practices leading up to game day.

“There’s a difference between just getting a guy blocked and making something happen,” Michalczik said about Tagaloa’s play during the scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 22. “I think he really took a step up in the scrimmage as far as really playing more aggressively and having confidence and being able to go attack.”

Tagaloa agrees with his position coach.

“This offseason went well for me,” Tagaloa said. “I dropped about 35 pounds getting ready to head into this season. The speed of the game came naturally. At first it was kind of hard, but our strength staff really did a good job with me and a bunch of guys on the team.”

Arizona’s up-tempo offense is a big difference from the slower pace of Cal. This transition has been an interesting one for Tagaloa, who has had to learn to keep up with the no-huddle system.

“Everything is way faster here,” Tagaloa said. “[Head] coach [Rich Rodriguez] loves to go fast. Practice moves fast. We only practice for about an hour and 45 minutes, but we get so much work done in such a short amount of time.”

Tagaloa says his principal focus in the weeks leading up to the season opener has been his footwork.

“I’d say moving my feet quicker,” he said. “Getting off the ball, getting my feet to the ground. Really getting weight moving.”

Tagaloa, who spent last season on Arizona’s practice squad, is now prepared to put his offseason work into action.


Follow Kyle Hansen on Twitter.


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