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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona offense strives to improve on 2010 finish

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Mike Christy
The No. 23 Arizona Wildcats hosted in-state rivals Arizona State in a college football game Thursday, Dec. 2, 2010, at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Ariz. The visiting Sun Devils upset the Wildcats by blocking an Arizona PAT in double overtime.

When the final gun sounded after Arizona’s loss to Oklahoma State in the Valero Alamo Bowl, it also signified the end to the career of almost every single member of the Wildcats’ offensive line.

Players like center Colin Baxter, offensive tackles Adam Grant and Phillip Garcia, offensive guards Conan Amituanai and Jovon Hayes moved on after the season ended.

Due to Baxter’s season-ending knee surgery, Kyle Quinn, who is now practicing with the first squad under center and will be a junior come September, replaced Baxter.

“”Kyle (Quinn) is an outstanding player, played well in the bowl game,”” said head coach Mike Stoops. “”He’s the leader of that group, and he’s the guy that has the most experience of all of the guys. That’s kind of scary — one game.””

Although the rest of the starting line will have to develop chemistry, Stoops said there are other aspects of the offense that could make up for the youth on the line.

“”We have our limitations in some areas,”” Stoops said, “”and to compensate for that, it’s great to have a bunch of skilled guys that we feel like we can space the field, get the ball to and let those guys make plays.””

One of those “”skilled guys”” is Texas transfer Dan Buckner, whose reputation on the field precedes him despite the fact he has yet to play a game for the Wildcats.

Buckner, with a 6-foot-4 frame, is another large target for Nick Foles on the outside that describes himself as an “”all around player.””

Lining up opposite established Wildcats receiver Juron Criner, Arizona will have two deep threats that could help the offense in areas it struggled with in 2010, like the red zone.

The junior had 529 yards and six touchdowns at Texas, figures that would have placed him second at Arizona in touchdowns and receiving yards if he put up similar numbers when compared to last year’s Wildcat statistics.

Stoops said spring practices would be crucial to developing a rapport between Buckner and quarterback Foles.

“”We need to spend a lot of time on communication, understanding their communications at the line of scrimmage,”” Stoops said. “”There’s a lot that’s said that isn’t said at the line of scrimmage and those are things that Dan (Buckner) will get better at as we move through spring and through camp.””

Admittedly, Buckner said it would take more than just spring and summer practices to get the communication down with Foles and the rest of the offense.

With returners David Douglas, Richard Morrison and Terrence Miller also as long completion threats, the 2011 Arizona Wildcats are built to go deep, something Buckner said makes them limitless.  

“”We can only be as good as we’re going to be, and we can be as bad as we choose to be,”” he said. “”When we’re playing at the top of our game — all four (wide receivers) — I feel like we’re unstoppable.””

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