As a redshirt freshman, Mickey Baucus figures to be one of the anchors along the offensive line for the foreseeable future after working all last season on improving his skills.
"I just came out and worked hard every play," Baucus said. "I got moved up to playing with the first team, so I got aggressive with the offense and learned a lot from the older guys Adam (Grant) and Phil (Garcia) by just watching them play and their work ethic really taught me a lot about the game. I just learned the system and was a student of the game."
The opportunity to see the field as a redshirt freshman is not coming as a surprise to Baucus, as the chance to get early playing time is something that has been motivating him for some time now.
"When Coach Bill Bedenbaugh was recruiting me, he told me the situation that there were some guys about to graduate," Baucus said. "I thought there was an opportunity, but I figured I would just come out and work hard and take what comes to me."
With Bedenbaugh now out of the picture, Baucus is hard at work with new offensive line coach Robert Anae, and the two are quickly building a rapport.
"Coach Anae is a great guy," Baucus said. "He's really old fashioned but he definitely knows what he's talking about. If you're messing up, he's going to get in your ear about it. But he's also the kind of guy who will give you some praise if you're doing things right and working hard.
"He says if you work hard, there's going to be a spot for you on his line."
The 6-foot-8, 275-pound projected starter at left tackle is part of a group that has been charged with replacing all five offensive line starters from a season ago. While many have pinpointed the group as perhaps the team's most glaring weakness, Baucus indicated he and his teammates are not preoccupied with how they are perceived.
"That's not really a concern for us," Baucus said. "We're going to go out there and play our game and if people want to say we can't do this or we can't do that, that's their issue. We're going to go out there and do our thing regardless of what people think."
If he holds down his spot at left tackle all the way until September, Baucus will immediately be tossed into the fire of Pac-12 play as a redshirt freshman. Even though he'll likely be younger and much less experienced than some of the opponents he'll face this season, Baucus is confident in his ability to hold his own as Nick Foles' blind side protector.
"I'm definitely ready," Baucus said. "I'm going to go out there and play to the best of my ability, and I expect to win every single snap. It doesn't matter if I'm playing against a consensus first team All-American or a freshman like me, it doesn't matter who it is. I expect to go out and win every single snap."
As the team's left tackle, Baucus will instantly become a leader on the team; another tall task the big man is ready to tackle this season.
"I'll step into whatever role the team needs me to," Baucus said. "Do I see myself as a guy who steps up like last year Adam Grant, or Nick (Foles), or Juron (Criner) being an All-American? No, but if I'm called upon to do it I'm not backing down from any challenge."
With five new offensive linemen starting for Arizona this season, it's easy to understand why the group may be a concern for those surrounding the program. But for Baucus, he's sees the potential in his fellow linemen and is excited to see how it can contribute to the rest of the offense.
"With us, the sky is the limit," Baucus said. "With our offense and our skill players, if we can protect them then we can be one of the best offenses in the country. That's my perspective, and I don't accept failure well. So we're going to go out there and work and do our best to win."
Baucus confident in abilities
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