Injuries have been a common theme this spring for the Arizona football squad. With players banged up all over the field, it's been a session that has seen several players receive increased reps in the absence of the injured.
Running back is a position that has seen much change in the spring. Gone from a season ago is running back Nic Grigsby and out for the 2011 campaign due to an ACL injury is Greg Nwoko. While those two losses will challenge others to step up, there is both depth and talent on the roster to make it happen.
One player looking to take advantage of the situation is Kylan Butler. The running back spent limited time on the field in his redshirt freshman season in 2010, but is looking for an expanded role in 2011. He believes he has had a productive spring and it should help him see more playing time this season.
"I think I have had a good spring," Butler said. "For the most part, coach has been saying I have had a good spring and I've been doing well in practices."
While the depth chart has taken a hit recently, there is still plenty of viable talent in the Arizona backfield. Butler thinks the competition pushes everyone to improve.
"It does," Butler said. "A lot of people think me and DJ (Daniel Jenkins) are rivals with each other, but we encourage each other and we make each other better. If there is something that I know that he doesn't know or if there is something he knows or Keola (Antolin) knows, we all share information, so it definitely makes all of us better."
Arizona didn't have much trouble moving the ball down field last season, but where it did struggle was putting the ball in the end zone when the Wildcats got the ball inside the 20 yard line. Butler understands that the red zone offense struggled in 2010, but thinks the team will be better prepared for those situations in the upcoming season.
"We had trouble completing drives," Butler said. "But now we put in some new plays and stuff like that. We work our run schemes a little different this time. I think that we're definitely trying to have a more physical presence so we can get down to that goal line and score."
With all of the talent in the backfield, giving every player a fair amount of touches can be a challenge for the UA coaching staff, but Butler sees everyone getting playing time this season.
"Definitely," Butler said. "Chach (assistant coach Garrett Chachere) already told us that everybody better know everything because everybody is getting reps. Especially me and DJ; we've been getting a lot of reps. So he's been putting a lot of expectations on us and I am comfortable with that."
The competition for playing time is going to a tough one for the running backs throughout the entire offseason. With three running backs already splitting reps and Ka'Deem Carey and Jared Baker arriving in the summer, it's going to be a hard-fought competition for touches. Even though there are several competitors looking to see the field, Butler believes this year will be big for him.
"Me and DJ talk about it all the time," Butler said. "This is our year. Our coming out. This is a big year for us."
Butler looking for a chance to prove himself
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