Center Kyle Quinn has been praised as the leader on the Arizona Wildcats' offensive line despite coming into the 2011 season with little starting experience. And as such, perhaps much of the pressure for the Wildcats to have any shot at upsetting the No. 6 Stanford Cardinal tomorrow falls on his broad shoulders.
After all, the run game and its success is predicated on the performance as the big guys up front, and finding that rung game is something the UA coaching staff has mentioned -- quite necessarily -- this week. Whether it's more reps for freshman Ka'Deem Carey or looks at No. 2 running back Daniel Jenkins, who has been practicing this week after sitting out to an ankle injury in the team scrimmage three weeks ago, the O-line is where that success must begin.
I caught up with Kyle to talk about the progress of the offensive line and how the Wildcats will handle Stanford's unique 3-4 defense.AZDS: Reading about Stanford and their 3-4, what have you guys been doing differently in practice?
KQ: It's a different scheme really. You're going to have a guy head-up on the center, guys head-up on the tackles and then you're going to have linebackers off the edge and linebackers over the guards. It's a different scheme, but we've been practicing for it all week so we should be prepared for it pretty well.
AZDS: Grading you guys this far into the season, how do you think you have been doing? You have only given up a couple sacks as far as pass protection.
KQ: Yeah, I think we've passed over 100 times and only given up only two sacks. We've done very well on that. That's a very good grade-out on that. We've just got to get better running the football. That's going to come once we start playing more together, we start getting that mentality, getting that nastiness about us; come off and run the football. We've done a great job passing the football, but now we need to move onto the other aspect of the offense.
AZDS: For someone who doesn't know about being an offensive lineman, is it a completely different thing pass blocking compared to run blocking or is it kind of one before the other? Is it one before the other or two different things completely?
KQ: It's two different things, really. Pass blocking you've got to set the wall and make sure guys don't get to the quarterback, and then run blocking, you've got to keep your pads low and you've got to keep good leverage, good hand placement. You've got to keep moving your feet. If you don't do that, you're not going to get much movement. It takes a lot of works in parts to get going, but once it does, it's a good thing to see.
AZDS: Jenkins has been practicing?
KQ: He's coming back. It was nice to hear his voice back there calling out protections and where he's at. It's good to see. He's an explosive player and he's dying to get back out there. He's been working hard with rehab and it's good to see him back out there.