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Saturday, December 20, 2014 | Last updated: 1:00am

Arizona football notes: Denker prepares to step in



On a week-to-week basis, Arizona’s schedule is pretty consistent.

A game on Saturday, practice on Sunday and then a day off on Monday.

After a 66-10 shellacking at the hands of UCLA, the Wildcats needed a day off. Except for B.J. Denker.

“Our day off we usually go home,” Denker said. “But I knew I needed to be in a position to be successful, so I got some extra work in.”

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Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Arizona’s backup quarterback spent six hours in the film room on Monday, and for good reason.

Matt Scott suffered a concussion against the Bruins, and his status for Saturday’s Homecoming game against Colorado is up in the air, putting Denker next in line.

“I’m really excited,”said Denker, a junior college transfer from Cerritos College in California. “This is what I’ve been working for all year, so it’ll be good to get my first start in front of my home crowd. It’ll be a big game, I’m excited.”

Big game and big shoes to fill.

Scott is first in Pac-12 with 2,848 passing yards, and fourth with 20 touchdowns. Oh, and he’s run for 369 yards and four touchdowns.

Denker feels he is ready, and his teammates have voiced confidence in “Vanilla Vick,” a nickname which stems from his left-handedness and speed at the quarterback position.

“I’ve caught the ball from B.J. a lot in practice, so I’m comfortable with him,” receiver Austin Hill said. “It doesn’t really matter who’s at quarterback as long as they’re getting the job done.”

With Scott exiting the UCLA game with 6:17 remaining in the third quarter, Denker had to fill in, which he did once before in a 49-0 blowout loss to Oregon in week four when Scott left the game with a hip injury.

In those two games, Denker went 7-of-13 with 45 yards, one interception, one fumble and zero touchdowns.

“B.J. did all right,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “I think his decision making, his demeanor, his demand of what we’re asking him to do was good. It’s a tough situation to go in when you’re that far behind and all that but, I thought he made a couple of good decisions, a couple good throws.”

On the season, the 6-foot-3, 177-pound Denker is 13-of-23 with 123 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Next to Scott’s, those numbers don’t really strike much confidence. But Denker isn’t concerned with how he’s done in spot duty. Rather, he feels that his game experience will help him come Saturday.

“Anytime you can get some game experience with a fast-paced offense, it helps,” Denker said.

If Scott doesn’t play and Denker gets the start, receiver Richard Morrison will be his backup. Morrison played quarterback in high school and also had reps there in the spring.

“Richard, he had pretty good command of it in the spring,” Rodriguez said. “He throws the ball pretty well. We’ll see what he can do this week in practice.”

Rodriguez, Mora exchange words

At the weekly Pac-12 coaches conference call, which takes place on Tuesdays, UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr., expressed a belief that Scott wasn’t “pulling the trigger quite like he had in past games.” He mentioned the hit on Scott in Arizona’s game against USC that had people thinking he suffered a concussion two weeks ago.

Rodriguez and athletic director Greg Byrne addressed that concern on Monday, saying that Scott went through all the necessary tests to determine he didn’t suffer a concussion in the upset win against USC, and Rodriguez wasn’t too happy that Mora commented on the situation.

“He’s done a good job with his team, but he doesn’t know about my team,” Rodriguez said. “Most coaches worry about their team and what’s going on because they know what’s going on with their team. I know what’s going on with my team. I don’t know what’s going on with his team.”


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