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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona Wildcats football coaches still support Denker in tough times

Cole Malham
Cole Malham/The Daily Wildcat UA Quarterback, B.J. Denker, looks for a receiver downfield on Saturday against Washington.

The old saying goes that the fans’ and media’s favorite player is the back-up quarterback, and to some extent that seems to be the case for Arizona.

Senior incumbent B.J. Denker was 14-for-35 passing with 119 yards, two interceptions and a 57.1 passer rating in the Wildcat’s first loss on Saturday, 31-13, at Washington.

Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Rod Smith agreed that the back-up quarterback is often the most popular.

“I used to be a back up, so I was pretty popular,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, the fans’ opinion don’t weigh a whole lot in our evaluations of what we’re doing. We respect it, but we gotta do what’s best for us.”

Denker has been the starter since last season’s No. 1 quarterback, Matt Scott, exhausted his eligibility after the New Mexico Bowl.

“We don’t ask him to win the game all the time, we just ask him to be the moderator of the ball,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of plays that we left out there that normally, he makes.”

Denker ran for 56 yards on 11 carries at UW.

“He’s conscientious, and we had a long meeting Sunday and watched the film together, and he’s a smart guy,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He can make better decisions, both in the run and the pass game. That was the thing we can correct in a hurry, and B.J., he’ll do that. He had a good practice [Tuesday].”

Denker is 115th in the country in both passing yards, with 445 through four games, and passing efficiency, with a 94.4.

“He saw it in the film session,” Smith said. “He’ll be better … If he had to do it over again, I really believe he would make better decisions next time.”

The loss snapped Arizona’s four-game win streak.

“It was on me, just not taking what they gave me and not making the right decision on a right play,” Denker said after the game.

Smith said Denker has gotten too much of the blame.

“He’s embarrassed; I’m embarrassed; we’re all embarrassed because this ain’t just B.J. Denker. I didn’t do my job, you know what I mean?” Smith said. “Not one person ever wins a game; not one person ever loses a game. That’s the problem … too much emphasis is put on the quarterback and too much praise is put on the quarterback.”

Freshman quarterback Javelle Allen relieved Denker late in the game, throwing an incomplete pass on his only attempt and rushing twice for 10 yards.

“There is a gap, but it is closing,” Smith said about the starting and back-up quarterbacks.

Washington quarterback Keith Price, a starter for three years, passed for 165 yards in the rain, going 14-for-25, with a 129.8 passer rating.

“I don’t think he was very sharp,” Smith said. “I didn’t think it was a very good game by either quarterback, to be honest with you.”

UA junior running back Ka’Deem Carey carried the ball a career-high 30 times on Saturday, and Husky running back Bishop Sankey carried it a Washington record of 40 times.

— Follow James Kelley @JamesKelley520

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