Thursday, March 25, 2010
Bigger shoes than you think: Arizona
By ESPN.com staff
First of a series looking at lineup holes that are important even if they don't make headlines.
Everybody's talking about: The Wildcats have to fill seven holes on defense, including all three linebacker spots and both defensive tackles.
Bigger shoes than you think: Left tackle Mike Diaz
Diaz didn't even make honorable mention All-Pac-10 in 2009, but he was the starting left tackle for a team that only gave up 13 sacks and rushed for 159 yards per game despite injuries to its top two tailbacks much of the year. There has to be some connection to Diaz and the success of the Wildcats offensive line. Diaz might not get drafted like the guy he replaced did -- Eben Britton -- but the 6-foot-5, 320 pounder leaves behind a sizable void.
Who's stepping in: Adam Grant, a sixth-year senior, started on the right side in 2009 and earned second-team All-Pac-10 honors. Despite injury issues for two seasons, he's an 18-game starter, so he has experience. At 6-6, 325, he's even bigger than Diaz and the former tight end is less limited athletically, though his footwork remains a work in progress. Still, he's moving from the right to left side and now will face the defense's best pass rusher while protecting his quarterback's blind side. That's a big step.