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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Position preview: offensive line

Larry+Hogan%2FArizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AOffensive+lineman+Chris+Putton%2C+No.+62%2C+practices+with+the+rest+of+the+UA+football+team+earlier+this+month.
Larry Hogan/Arizona Daily Wildcat Offensive lineman Chris Putton, No. 62, practices with the rest of the UA football team earlier this month.

In the 5 days leading up to the Wildcats’ season opener against Toledo on Sept. 1, the Daily Wildcat will preview each position on Arizona’s roster, alternating between offense and defense.

Projected Starters: Mickey Baucus (sophomore), Chris Putton (junior), Kyle Quinn (senior), Trace Biskin (senior), Fabbians Ebbele (sophomore)

Backups: Lene Maiava (freshman), Eric Bender-Ramsay (junior), Trent Spurgeon (sophomore), Addison Bachman (senior), Zach Hemmila (freshman), Shane Zink (Senior)

Departures: Jacob Arzouman (knee injury, out for season), Jack Baucus (injury, retirement)

Returning stat leaders: Quinn — 12 starts, Ebbele — 12 starts, Baucus — 12 starts, Biskin — 10 starts, Putton — 9 starts, Zink — 3 starts

Heading into 2011, the inexperience of the offensive line was a major concern. The Wildcats’ most experienced starter at the time was then-junior center Kyle Quinn — with one career start. Junior Trace Biskin, sophomore Chris Putton and freshmen Fabbians Ebbele and Mickey Baucus had a combined goose egg of starting experience, having never started a single collegiate football game before last year.

Now all five starters return, armed with the experience they earned through the struggles of last year.

The line was widely criticized last season because of its inexperience, but all things considered the players actually did a decent job.

As a unit, Arizona gave up 23 sacks, which was good enough for fourth-best in the Pac-12 behind Oregon, Stanford and USC. Ebbele, the mammoth 6-foot-8, 310-pound right tackle, received Sporting News Freshman All-America honors.

Oddly, Ebbele is the one lineman from last year’s starters still fighting for his starting job, as he dukes it out with redshirt freshman Lene Maiava.

Quinn, who was an All-Pac-12 honorable mention last year, and Biskin are the senior stabilizers on the line and two of the overall team leaders, and Putton brings athleticism and versatility to the position thanks to his ability to play at left tackle. The 6-foot-8 Baucus might have the most important job on the Wildcats roster: protecting quarterback Matt Scott’s blindside. The inexperience behind Scott at the quarterback position makes it imperative for the line, and Baucus in particular, to keep him clean and protected.

All in all, as long as it remains healthy and keeps its quarterback safe, the offensive line should be one of the more consistent performers for Arizona this upcoming season.

Grade: B

Up next:
Defensive Line

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