The Arizona Wildcats are winding down fall camp, and coach Mike Stoops says he has seen improvement in the one area that is the team’s biggest question — the all-new starting offensive line.
“The first group especially,” Stoops said.
“And some of our young guys are getting better, too. I figured that would happen with a lot of young players. You’re going to see a lot of growth through a period of time, and certainly our guys have improved a great deal.”
Arizona has done some mixing and matching in recent practices to build flexibility and depth, but the starting five likely is unchanged from spring:
From left, redshirt freshman Mickey Baucus, sophomore Chris Putton, junior Kyle Quinn, junior Trace Biskin and redshirt freshman Fabbians Ebbele.
“Fabbians has gotten a lot better,” Stoops said. “You can tell he’s getting more comfortable. And Mickey, too. Kyle is the leader, and he has played awfully well all through camp. I like the way they are coming along.”
Senior defensive end C.J. Parish has worked against those redshirt freshman tackles all camp, so we asked him to put on his coach’s hat and give us an evaluation of each.
On Baucus: “Mickey, he’s nasty. He just looks nasty off the ball. Mickey is going to kick back fast and throw his hands at you, and as soon as you swipe them down, he’s going to replace his hands right fast. I find him to be a nasty, vicious tackle. He’s going to be really good for us.”
On Ebbele, who like Baucus, is 6-foot-8: “Fabbians’ strength is his long arms. You try to come up under those, but he’s got his hands on you. His arms are so unbelievably long.”
He said it
“Juron is just a different breed.” — Safety Marquis Flowers on star wide receiver Juron Criner
One player who can’t be forgotten in the offensive backfield is junior Taimi Tutogi, a hybrid H-back/tight end/running back. His bruising style will be important as a lead blocker, and he is capable of carrying the ball in the right situation and catching swing passes.
He’s a bit of an X-factor, especially when the Cats put him in motion.
“Taimi is a multi-faceted player,” running backs coach Garret Chachere said. “He adds to your offense, no doubt about that. He’s ready to break out and do some things and really show his skills.”
Arizona has three true freshman offensive linemen in camp, and Stoops singled out Lene Maiava from American Samoa as one who’s doing “a great job.” … Thursday marked the end of fall camp that is open to the media, other than the scrimmage Saturday at Arizona Stadium at 6 p.m. The Wildcats will then pick up Tuesday on campus at the Jimenez practice facility as they start to get ready for the Sept. 3 opener against NAU. … The Oklahoma State media guide has arrived in the mail, accompanied by a reporter’s notebook with quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon on the cover. Still waiting for the Nick Foles-Juron Criner edition. … Starting defensive end Mohammed Usman has a sprained left ankle and is in a walking boot. He should return to practice sometime next week.