TUCSON, Ariz. — It was the middle of August, and the hope of Arizona football was riding on the arm and leadership of a talented but then-relatively-untested senior quarterback Matt Scott.
And in the background, there was his apprentice, B.J. Denker, saying he was going in with the mind set of always thinking he was “a starter,” yet clearly knowing Scott was the guy.
Well, Denker’s time might be coming on Saturday morning against visiting Colorado in Arizona’s Homecoming game. If it does, he said, “it’ll be a dream come true.”
There’s a good chance Denker, a self-described nerd who loves football and everything about it, will start in place of Scott, who suffered a concussion against UCLA last weekend.
The circumstances of the start – there’s a chance that Richard Morrison could see himself at QB, too – aren’t the way he would have liked it, but as Denker said it’s part of the game.
“I hope he has trust in me that I can come out and get a win,” Denker said. “I want to just to do something to help the team.”
A win would make Arizona bowl eligible, giving the Wildcats six wins. But why worry about that when the next game is always a concern, particularly after a blowout loss (66-10 to UCLA) and the prospect of turning the high-powered offense over to a quarterback who’s barely played at this level of competition.
Coach Rich Rodriguez said he’ll announce the starter on Thursday, in as much that’s when Arizona officially releases its injury report. It’s very likely Rodriguez knows already what he’s going to do.
Until then, Denker, a junior college transferfrom Cerritos College, will work like a starter.
From that standpoint, nothing has changed since August.
He already has some experience, filling in for Scott last week with the Wildcats already hopelessly behind, and against South Carolina State in September in a game that was the exact opposite. In all, he’s appeared in five games and has hit 13 of 23 passes for 123 yards, with one interception and one fumble.
Rodriguez is confident Denker would be up for the tast. Then again, he said he has confidence in all his players. What else would he say?
“He should be all right,” Rodriguez said. “He’s an older guy. He’s a veteran guy, not a high school freshman. He’s competitive guy. If it’s his turn (to play) on Saturday, I’m sure he’ll perform well.”
That’s the plan, Denker said. After all, these are the moments athletes live for.
“I’m really excited. It’s what I’ve been working all year for,” he said. “I’ll be in front of our home crowd. I’m ready to lead this team. One of my strength is being a leader, just going out and executing the offense.”
Earlier in the week, Denker said he spent an extra six hours in the video room reviewing game tape. Scott was with him, and the advice his friend and teammate told him was: “Get the tempo down. The faster it is, the easier it is.”
Arizona will use the offense that has gotten it to this point – relying on speed and tempo.
Same game, perhaps just a different name leading the charge.