Ahead of the Game: Borg to be wild - The Explorer: Import

Ahead of the Game: Borg to be wild

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Posted: Monday, August 14, 2006 11:00 pm | Updated: 7:52 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

August 9, 2006 - One by one the 90-plus members of the University of Arizona football team filed in front of a video camera and a green screen on the floor of the McKale Center on Aug. 5 to strike a pose.

The postures are creative and fun but only shown on the stadium's jumbo screen when a player scores a touchdown or creates a defensive turnover or sack.

In other words, whenever someone incites some excitement. It's always someone flashy, a quarterback or wide receiver and rarely the unsung heroes of the trenches.

"They just have us cross our arms," said sophomore Daniel Borg, a member of the Wildcats' offensive line.

Borg just might crack a smile for his pose. But don't count on it. His pursed lips seem to only turn upward when around his teammates, and, even then, it's rare.

The Ironwood Ridge High School grad will see his first action of his college career this season when he lines up to protect fellow second-year player Willie Tuitama, UA's upstart quarterback.

On the field, Borg becomes the football equivalent of a secret service agent: no glory, no riches. Just like the tuba players in the band, the offensive lineman has the most thankless job in sports.

You look at Borg, a six-foot, five-inch, 290-pound side of beef and you see a scowl that could stop water from rushing downhill. What you don't see is the fraternity-like atmosphere that surrounds the men of the "O-line."

"It's something to do with big versus little," said senior outside tackle Tanner Bell about the world of his fellow linemen behind the scenes. "I guess big guys are all the same across the board, just goofy. Basically there's no holds barred amongst us. It's just fun to be around people who are similar in personalities because you know, anything goes."

So how does a guy like Borg fit in with admitted goofballs like Bell? After all, he's somewhat of an enigma, even among his own kind.

Borg spent this summer taking geography and computer science classes. Not many football players take computer science, let alone major in it like Borg.

"He is an anomaly but at the same time he's got a goofiness about him, but he'll turn on you real quick and he'll start busting on you," said Bell about Borg. "He's got a great head on his shoulders, I mean, the guy's dad is a rocket scientist (aerospace engineer). If he didn't have football down the road he's going to get into some kind of engineering."

Despite the academics, his teammates insist Borg is just one of the "O-men."

"When we go back to the dorms we hang out but Borg is always asleep," said Tuitama. "But that's good because he's trying to make sure he's ready every day so that he's fresh."

Borg will need to be fresh. The UA will be young at the offensive line position this year. Of the 20 offensive linemen in the UA camp - which began practice Aug. 3 - only three of them are seniors.

That means plenty of playing time for Borg, who has worked out at the tackle, guard and even center positions this fall.

"We've shown some improvement," said UA head coach Mike Stoops about his team's first line of defense against the defense. "I think we've got a long way to go but that's going to be key for us."

Arizona tied for eighth last year in the Pac-10 in sacks allowed, seventh in passing and ninth in rushing. Some blame goes to the quarterbacks and running backs, but the offensive line shoulders a majority of the blame. This year will be no different. Without a steady offensive line, the Wildcats can only advance so far in its quest to win more than three games, as it has the last two seasons.

The big adjustment for the new guys will be to the speed of the game, said Bell.

If the UA wins more than three games - and early predictions have the UA finishing as high as sixth in the Pac-10 - who knows? Perhaps, for once, Borg and his line mates can get themselves on the big screen.

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