Lack of upperclassmen hurts the line

One reality about the Wildcat offense is that it is young. Thanks to some ‘holes' in recruiting and retention, the team is forced to use a number of underclassmen. That lack of experience is one reason the unit is struggling to score points.

The first group on offense we will take a look at is the offensive line.

The Wildcats currently have 16 offensive linemen on the roster, 14 of which have scholarships.

The breakdown of classes are as follows:

RS Seniors: (2) Tanner Bell, Erick Levitre
Seniors: (1) Adam Hawes
RS Juniors: (1) Peter Graniello
Juniors: (1) James Tretheway
RS Sophomores: (2) Bill Wacholz, Joe Longacre
Sophomores: (0)
RS Freshmen: (4) Daniel Borg, Eben Britton, Adam Grant, Blake Kerley
Freshmen: (2) Colin Baxter, Jovon Hayes, Corey Elmore

As you can see, just five of the 14 are upperclassmen and most of them do not play. Graniello is the only starter since Hawes was benched against UCLA. Levitre was a starter a year ago but has played sparingly this season. Bell has yet to see meaningful playing time and Tretheway is redshirting after suffering an ankle injury in fall camp.

It has been the underclassmen who have gotten the bulk of the reps. Four underclassmen currently start on the line, three of whom are redshirt freshmen. A fourth, Adam Grant, would have factored into the equation had he not injured his knee in the offseason.

The unit was really dealt a blow when they lost a number of linemen in the offseason. In addition to the injuries to Tretheway and Grant, the Cats learned that Dillon Hansen would have to give up football due to injury issues. They also lost the services of Eddie Rollman and Joe Baresi over the summer as both of the young players left the program.

That is five linemen that the Cats expected to have this season, but don't.

Those aren't the only losses. Over the last five recruiting classes the Cats have lost six offensive linemen that could potentially be on this team. Sheldon Watts was forced to give up football due to injuries sustained in a shooting. John Parada, who would be a redshirt senior, also had to quit football due to multiple injuries. Jordan Lowe signed with the Wildcats, but failed to qualify. Daniel Espinoza and Ismail Garcia left the program, while Keith Jackson was dismissed from the team. Jackson would be a redshirt senior, while Garcia would be a redshirt junior.

Arizona is young on the offensive line and there is nothing the team can do about it right now. Attempts to infuse the team with junior college talent have not been successful. The good news is that the group has a lot of potential, but potential has not helped open up holes for the running backs or protect the passer.

This is the reality, now the team must develop their young players.

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