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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wildcats game against Bulldogs might be opportunity to rest overworked starters

Larry Hogan/Arizona Daily Wildcat Backup quarterback B.J. Denker, No. 7, makes a pass during UA football practice on Aug. 16

Entering the season, the biggest area of concern, for both the media and head coach Rich Rodriguez, was a lack of depth on the Wildcats’ roster.

While No. 24 Arizona has proven its critics wrong about a lot of things in two weeks, it still hasn’t quite figured out that weakness.

With South Carolina State coming to town Saturday, some Arizona players might finally get to rest for a play or two — of course, there’s always a catch.

“If we don’t go out and take care of what we need to take care of, then nobody’s going to come out,” linebacker Jake Fischer said. “It just depends on execution and if I get to come out that’s fine. I don’t really want to [though].”

Whether or not a coach rests his starters depends on how close the game is, but no matter what the score is on Saturday, the Wildcats could really use a break.

Fischer has been a part of all 186 defensive snaps this season and has contributed a bit to special teams play as well — and he’s not alone.

Linebackers Marquis Flowers and Sir Thomas Jackson, along with safety Jared Tevis, have also participated in nearly every play for the Wildcats, and that doesn’t even take into account their special teams contributions.

For Fischer, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to be out there the whole game, but it does increase the risk for injury.

“You want to be on the field at all times,” Fischer said. “I used to hate coming off the field … Just being on the field all the time and [making] them have to beat you, that’s the kind of competitive mentality we all have and you relish it.”

The overworking issue exists on offense as well.

Sophomore running back Ka’Deem Carey has 46 of the 56 total carries out of all backs this season. Carey has been successful in the role, with 273 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, but the goal wasn’t for him to get such a large percentage of time with the ball this early in the season.

Co-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee said the plan has always been to have more guys running the ball, specifically junior Daniel Jenkins, but the flow of the games hasn’t allowed it.

“That’s the plan every week to get more guys playing,” Magee said. “That’s across the board [too].”

Rodriguez echoed the same sentiment in Monday’s press conference.

He said in an ideal world he’d want each side of the ball to go 22-men deep, but with this current roster that hasn’t been a possibility so far.

Now, with an FCS foe coming up, the Wildcats might finally have the chance to rest some starters and, just as importantly, give some bench guys game experience — including backup quarterback B.J. Denker.

Rodriguez said it’s never been his philosophy to just throw a backup quarterback in a game just to get him reps, since the high intensity at practice is designed to prepare him.

Denker will likely see playing time. Rodriguez just hopes it’s not as a result of an injury to Matt Scott.

“[Denker] is ready to play. He’s been ready to play the last couple of weeks,” Rodriguez said. “He’s not quite as sharp on some things as [Scott] is, but he’s a very good athlete and he picked the system up really quickly.”

If all goes according to Arizona’s plan, Denker and backups at other key positions will finally see time on the field. Still, rest for the starters can only come if the job is done first, and if not, the depth will have to wait.

“If I have to play 107 snaps against South Carolina State, that’s just what’s going to have to happen,” Flowers said.

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