By Arlie Rahn
Arizona Daily Wildcat
When the Arizona offensive line was on the brink of falling apart, junior guard David Watson was the glue holding it together. For the last two games, Watson has been backing up three of the four line positions while starting at right guard.
"David's a very bright individual," UA coach Dick Tomey said. "He's not as good as he could be at any one position, but that is because he's had to patch things up."
The most difficult aspect for the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Watson to deal with has been the additional time spent concentrating on each spot.
"Really the only difference is that I have to know all the assignments, so it's just a little more film time," Watson said. "It does make it a little tougher in the game because I have to watch all the positions."
When Watson came to Arizona in 1992, he was thrust suddenly into the big time. While he never played an official down in the season, he did have the toughest job for a Pacific 10 Conference lineman. As a scout team tackle, he practiced against the second-ranked defense in the nation every day.
"That was a great experience for me," Watson said. "Anytime you play against that kind of defense it forces you to get better. As a freshman, it wasn't so much learning the different matchups as it was just getting used to the hard-hitting of college football."
After two years of spot duty, Watson said he was looking forward to perhaps finally having a consistent role on the offensive line in '94, but a senior-dominated line left no room for him.
"I had hoped to enter a rotation last season with the other guys but it never worked out," Watson said.
Now not only is Watson in on every down, but he has to be wary to pick up the slack if anyone else ever gets injured.
"It's a tough position for a lineman to be in, but David's done a good job," UA offensive line coach Charlie Dickey said. "But he's just one of the many guys we've had to ask to do a little more with our injuries."
These injuries have also forced the remaining players, such as Watson, to get more practice time, which makes it tougher for them to recuperate from their own aches and pains.
"Lately we've only had five guys practicing so we've had a lot of minutes," Watson said. "Hopefully we can get healthy and have some guys back in the next couple games."
While it has been a physically draining season for Watson, the mental strain might be even worse. Since the start of the season, five linemen have missed games due to injuries.
"When as many people get hurt as we've had, you just have to keep focused," Watson said. "But now I'm sticking at one position unless someone goes down."
His current spot, right guard, is one he never played before this season. But he has learned to adapt to the more physical position.
"I guess right now I'm most comfortable at guard, even though I never played it until last spring," Walker said. "The thing about guard is that you don't have to wait to block your guys. I like it because it's more banging than tackle."
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