Coming out of spring, maybe the biggest takeaway for those that were watching Arizona Wildcats practices was the lack of bodies on the offensive line.
Throughout practices, there weren’t even enough guys to field a third line in drills, and with the lack of offensive linemen in the 2017 recruiting class, this became a big concern for Rich Rodriguez.
“I probably worry more than he does,” Rodriguez said about his thoughts on the depth compared to offensive line coach Jim Michalczik’s level of worry. “I think we need to get deeper there but if we keep seven or eight guys healthy we’ll be okay.”
Well, another blow was dealt to the team’s depth in that particular group when redshirt freshman Harper Sherman decided to leave the team. He, along with linebacker Kahi Neves, are no longer with the program.
The team’s online roster now has 12 offensive linemen listed (two new walk-ons), but also returns six players that made starts in 2017.
So there’s good and bad to what’s happening with this group. But when you’re talking about combining practice with games, that’s a lot of physical punishment that the offensive line is going to take with its overall lack of bodies. That makes injuries more likely, and, well, exposing the lack of depth even more.
Arizona’s success in 2017 will come down to its offensive line play. The offense as a whole struggled in 2016, and a big reason why was the lack of quarterback protection. If the Wildcats can get some protection and also some decent blocking for the running backs, the offense could take a giant step up from last year.
But if there’s not enough guys, that makes things so much harder.