Allen watches, waits, improves as Denker’s understudy

TUCSON, Ariz. — Javelle Allen is ready and willing.

Able? Well that’s the question that can’t be answered yet … and Arizona coaches wouldn’t mind if it remains that way.

With senior B.J. Denker improving by the week and stringing together impressive performances, there’s less urgency to find out whether understudy Allen is capable of directing Arizona’s offense effectively.

But if the time comes, Allen says he’ll be ready.

“Everybody gets nervous, but if I got in there that I’d be ready and do the things I’d need to do,” Allen said.

Until then, the 6-foot-2, 217-pound redshirt freshman from Texas gets a steady diet of practice and patience. He’s the apprentice.

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said he likes what he’s seen and isn’t afraid to play Allen, but the time hasn’t been right. He’ll play Denker to the very last moment of every game if need be.

“If I’m not sure it’s completely wrapped up, I’ll leave the (first team) in there,” said Rodriguez. “He’s just handing the ball off anyway.

“It’s usually less than five minutes to go and up by three touchdowns,” Rodriguez said of his comfort level. “You never know. Heck, there are so many teams out there that can throw the ball and spread you out, that makes you nervous.”

Allen will continue to do his work on the practice field.

“I feel like I’m making progress,” he said this week. “As B.J. is coming along, I’m getting better.

He feels he’s come far since spring, taking on the challenge set by Rodriguez to slim down and shape up. Allen went from 230 to 217 pounds and has seized the No. 2 spot on the depth chart.

“It’s about knowing the offense,” Alle said. “We both have, and we feed off each other.”

Like his coach, Denker likes what he’s seen in Allen.

“He’s the most athletic quarterback we have,” Denker said. “He’s going to be big for us. Me and him are in the film room all the time together. We’re partners there. We’re always on the sidelines talking. We’re similar in our athletic ability and left-handed. A lot of the plays are constructed for both of our strengths.

“I hope he’s taking this seriously, because he’s going to be the guy. If I go down (this season) or next year, he’s going to be the guy who is going to be the stud.  I think he’s taking it seriously.”

Yes, he is. What caught Rodriguez’s eye this week was his ability to compete. Earlier this week, freshman quarterback Anu Solomon (redshirting this season) broke the quarterback bench pressing record, pressing 225 pounds 13 times. On Tuesday, Allen broke that one by one.
“The competitor came out of him. He wanted that record,” Rodriguez said.

“You try to foster that environment of competitiveness. Some kids have it in their DNA. And some of them it’s where it gets drawn out. Javelle has some, and more than we think.”

Allen kind of just chuckled at the bench-press thing.
“That’s just how we are at quarterback,” he said. “We push each other. Being competitors, we all make that attempt. I just happened to bench one more. We’re just trying to get stronger. By this time next year, it’ll all be different.”

And the competition to replace Denker will start anew. Texas transfer Connor Brewer joins a group that includes Allen, Solomon, Jesse Scroggins and Nick Isham.

Allen said the competition will force him to keep working and improving.

“I think I’m going to be a good player,” he said. “I like the fact that I’m learning from (Denker) this year, and learned from Matt Scott last year. Maybe next year when I’m the QB, that will have helped me and maybe I’ll have an advantage over the others.”