What's Up UA - Backup QB Denker ready to step in, if needed - The Explorer: University Of Arizona

What's Up UA - Backup QB Denker ready to step in, if needed

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Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 11:30 am

Typically, Arizona players will have a light practice the Sunday after a game, take Monday off and regroup Tuesday in preparation for the next opponent.

But after Matt Scott left last Saturday's game in the third quarter and athletic director Greg Byrne confirmed it was a concussion two days later, backup quarterback B.J. Denker turned his day off into a lengthy film session.

After Denker got out of class at noon and finished his tutoring session an hour later, the junior college transfer met with the coaches until about 6:30 p.m. Should Scott not get cleared by the medical staff in time for Saturday's game against Colorado, Denker will likely receive his first career start.

"I knew that I need to be in a position to be successful, so I needed to get some extra work in," Denker said.

"I'm just going to do something to help the team. We're going to be bowl-eligible if we get a win, so that's my main focus."

US Presswire

Arizona backup quarterback B.J. Denker could earn his first career start Saturday in place of Matt Scott, who is recovering from a concussion.

In five appearances this season, the 6-3, 177-pounder has completed 13 of 23 passes for 123 yards and has a touchdown to go with one interception. In relief of Scott and in front of a hometown crowd at the Rose Bowl, the Torrance, Calif., native - a lifelong Bruins fan growing up - was just 2-of-5 passing for 12 yards, a fumble and he was sacked three times.

Still, Denker said there are only positives that come out of each experience.

"Anytime you can get some game experience with the fast-paced offense, it helps," he said. "That's always a plus. It makes me more comfortable and I'm not as nervous. I don't think there's any minuses. I'm just going to go out there and run the system, and the system will help us be successful."

The system, to this point, has called for passing plays almost 53 percent of the time. However, Denker said he finds himself more comfortable when he's "on the move." The mobile quarterback even accepts the "Vanilla Vick" moniker a former coach gave him because of his athletic ability, the No. 7 jersey he wears like Philadelphia Eagles starter Michael Vick and the fact he's left-handed.

But, head coach Rich Rodriguez said nothing changes, regardless of who is taking the snaps.

A late signee, Denker was not with the team for spring camp. The fall was his first taste of the spread-option system, but Rodriguez said his backup has a "good grasp" of the offense.

While Denker struggled statistically against UCLA, Rodriguez said nobody on the team "graded out really high."

"B.J. did all right," Rodriguez said. "I think his decision-making and demeanor, his command of what we were asking him to do - it's kind of a tough situation to go in when you're that far behind - but I thought he made a couple good decisions, a couple good throws."

Should Denker start, he will not have to worry about the support of his teammates.

Starting center Kyle Quinn and slot receiver Austin Hill - Scott's top target this season - each said they have confidence in Denker's abilities.

Hill added that the adjustment comes in catching a ball from a different quarterback - but only because there is a noticeable change in the way a pass is delivered between any two quarterbacks.

"Balls are a little different," Hill said. "As a receiver, each quarterback throws the ball and it feels like you're getting a different kind of ball from each kind of quarterback when you catch it. But, in practice, I've caught the ball from B.J. a lot, so I'm comfortable with him - almost the same as Matt. It doesn't really matter who's at quarterback, as long as they're getting the job done."

That would be the other matter still at hand. Denker is not the only one vying for the job.

Richard Morrison was in competition for the backup job all throughout the spring and for the early portion of fall camp. Injuries limited his availability, so Rodriguez decided to keep him at receiver.

Others have since moved ahead of Morrison on the depth chart in the slot, but Scott's injury now makes him an ideal replacement again.

"Richard had a pretty good command of it in the spring and he throws the ball pretty well," Rodriguez said. "So we'll see what he can do this week in practice."

(Editor's Note: Tracy McDannald is the senior editor for GOAZCats. For full wildcats' coverage, visit the website at GOAZCATS.com)

© 2014 The Explorer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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