Players facing pressure

Football season is rapidly approaching and with expectations at a decade-long high there will be a lot of pressure facing Arizona in 2010.

Football season is rapidly approaching and with expectations at a decade-long high there will be a lot of pressure facing Arizona in 2010. Finishing second in the conference was a big leap in the right direction for the UA football program and this year the fan-base is expecting to see Arizona take the football program to the next kevel.

It all has to happen on the field first and it will start with key players stepping their game up to new heights. The following players have a ton of pressure to perform this season and the Wildcats will need them to step up if they want to make their first Rose Bowl appearance.

Nic Grigsby

While Arizona had a solid offense last season, it had trouble with consistency and a lot of that stemmed from the injury situation in backfield in 2009. If Grigsby can stay healthy, he is primed for a career year. When Arizona's running game is on, it is very difficult to beat and if Grigsby can finally realize his potential then Arizona is going to be virtually unstoppable on offense.

Brooks Reed

Reed had an outstanding sophomore season and everyone expected him to elevate his game even more a year ago, Instead, he fought injuries for most of the season and left the dirty work to Ricky Elmore.

Assuming Reed is healthy, he could be ready to have the breakout season he expected to have last season. That would give UA two deadly pass-rushers on the end and make it a nightmare for offenses that rely heavily on the pass.

David Roberts

Roberts had a surprisingly good season a year ago, but by no means is he going to be handed a starting job. He will have to fight off several other receivers for playing time but with the experience he gained in 2009, it is important that he continues to improve and hold his spot.

With the losses of Terrell Turner and Delashaun Dean, Roberts experience – albeit brief – is essential at a position that it has been sucessful over the past few seasons. Roberts sure hands and great route running are essential in the spread, but it's what he has gained in knowledge that makes him so important for 2010.

Colin Baxter

Easily the best offensive lineman on the team, Baxter will anchor a group that has experienced a lot of turnover in the past two years. Baxter is probably the surest bet on this list to perform, but with preseason award nominations and NFL expectations, the pressure is clearly on Baxter this season.

If he realizes expectations, the offensive line will be a strength. If he takes a step back though, the offensive line could crumble. The latter shouldn't be expected though as Baxter has yet to disappoint anyone since arriving on campus.

Derek Earls

Normally a linebacker that comes from the JUCO level doesn't have too much pressure on him, but Earls is a bit different. He was one of the highest rated recruits in Arizona's 2010 class and is coming in at a position that desperately needs help. There are zero returning starters at the position from last year and there is a microscope on the middle of the defense because of it.

The staff is high on Earls and he improved in the spring as he gained more experience, but nothing is certain until he hits the field for real. If Earls can step up, it will take a huge load off the rest of the defense.

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