Putton ready for center stage

Senior offensive lineman Chris Putton has been receiving snaps at center this spring. Read on for more about his battle for the position and his thoughts about the Wildcats' new offensive line coach.

Heading into the second spring training camp under Arizona Head Coach Rich Rodriguez, there were few spots to be filled on the offensive side of the ball, including center.

Offensive lineman Chris Putton is one of the leading candidates to start at center this season after playing the last few at offensive guard. He has taken snaps early in the spring, but admits that it isn't anything new for him.

"I've been taking snaps since my red shirt freshman year," Putton said. "Obviously, I haven't played there yet, but I like the challenge. It's definitely a change."

The senior is ready for wherever he is placed on the offensive line this season. He has worked on different positions throughout his career with the Wildcats and hopes to transition into his role in the fall.

"I think moving around a lot last year helps," he said. "I was snapping then and that helps and I think it will be a good transition.

"Last year, I was stressing out too much about the play before it was even snapped. This year I am a little more relaxed with the ball and I can just think calmly about the play before I snap the ball."

With the relaxed mind that Putton will carry into the season, it will be easier for him to go through his progressions at center if he wins the job.

"At first, I have to know what play we are running and understand whether it is a run or pass," he said. "I also have to know where the linebackers are and then point out which ones we are going to block and where the play should be going if we do our job correctly."

A new face is coaching the entire offensive line this spring. Coach Jim Michalczik replaced former offensive line coach Robert Anae, who left for an offensive coordinator job at BYU. So far, Putton has already noticed differences in their coaching styles.

"They are both great coaches and have different ways of teaching," he said. "Coach Michalczik is a technique coach and he has gotten us a lot better with the short time he's been here. He is very set on technique."

The new offensive line coach has been stressing technique in meetings and workouts. The senior lineman has been putting in the extra work, but still has plenty to do in order to be ready for the first spring scrimmage.

"Coach Michalczik is definitely a rep guy and he wants us taking as many reps as we can each day," Putton said. "I've been snapping at home with some of my friends. I'm just trying to get better every day.

"He stresses our pad level. He tells us to get our butt down on every single play. He is big on staying low, getting that leverage, and driving everyone off the ball."

Putton believes that as a team, the Wildcats achieved their goals last season. He has similar goals this year, but is hungry for more after having a taste of success.

"I think we achieved our goals last year," Putton said. "We won a bowl game, although it wasn't the bowl we set out for at the beginning of the season. That was our main team goal.

"As for the offensive line, we wanted to become known as a run offense instead of a pass offense, like we were the last few years. This year is the same way. We want to have even more yards on the ground."

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