Dear Mr. Football: Why do you never say never about college quarterbacks?
A: Five years ago, Arizona recruited Boston College QB Chase Rettig out of San Clemente, Calif., and then, when that failed, tried to recruit his brother, Hayden, who is now a backup QB at LSU.
Chase Rettig initially hoped to play at Tennessee, but became impatient when the Volunteers preferred to seek Los Angeles prep whiz Jesse Scroggins. How’d that work out? Scroggins hasn’t stepped on the field at Arizona this season, his fourth year of college football.
So, eventually, with a thin depth chart, Rich Rodriguez recruited virtual unknown junior-college QB B. J. Denker, who didn’t have another offer from a D-I, D-II or D-III college.
Dear Mr. Football: What should Denker’s football initials be?
A: He should be known as MVP. He saved RichRod’s second UA football team from going 4-8 or 5-7. Maybe worse.
Denker has thrown 357 of Arizona’s 358 passes this season, which is believed to be a school record. No other modern UA quarterback has played such a high percentage of snaps in a season.
In 1986, Alfred Jenkins attempted 278 of the UA’s 281 passes, and in 1994 Dan White threw 296 of Arizona’s 302 passes.
Denker has gone the distance at a time anything less would’ve crushed RichRod’s immediate rebuilding progress.
Dear Mr. Football: What Tucsonan is happiest about the AdvoCare V100 Bowl?
A: It’s Tyler DeBerry, a 13-time swimming All-American at Arizona a decade ago, the 2002 Arizona prep Swimmer of the Year at Sabino High School.
When DeBerry completed his UA degree, he went to work for AdvoCare and has since traveled extensively representing the firm’s performance, nutrition and weight management products.
DeBerry won’t be in Shreveport today, but he has become a visible spokesman/public speaker for the firm.
Dear Mr. Football: Who is likely to be today’s game-changer, Ka’Deem Carey or Andre Williams?
A: I’ll take Boston College kicker Nate Freese, who is 18 for 18 booting field goals this year and 36 for 38 (.947) the last two seasons.
How good is that? UA legend Max Zendejas was 43 for 56 (.767) his final two Arizona seasons; All-American Steve McLaughlin was 50 for 75 (.667) in his UA career; Nick Folk, the UA’s most successful NFL kicker, was 30 for 47 as a Wildcat (.639).
What you probably don’t remember is that the UA’s most successful field goal kicker is neither Zendejas nor McLaughlin nor Folk. It’s Jason Bondzio, who was 35 for 43 (.833).
Freese will be fortunate if he can match Bondzio’s post-college days: Bondzio graduated from the UA’s Eller School of Business and is now an asset optimizer for Repsol Corp. in Houston, which basically means he knows oil and natural gas the way Mel Kiper Jr. knows the NFL draft.
Dear Mr. Football: Does BC’s Andre Williams have any plans after football?
A: The nation’s leading rusher told ESPN: “I want an aristocratic life. … I want to learn to fly a plane, take it across the sea with my wife on a Sunday and fly back for dinner. I want to build houses. I want to open a nonprofit organization.
“Without dreams of going further, I don’t know why people would play at this level.”
Dear Mr. Football: How much money will the UA save by hiring the Northwestern State University marching band to fill in for UA’s Pride of Arizona band?
A: Once the UA band scattered for Christmas break, it would’ve required about 100 round-trip airfares, two or three hotel nights for 100 people, plus food, to have them at today’s game. That’s about $80,000.
Perhaps the UA is saving its money for the treasured day it plays in the Rose Bowl.
The Demons, who ordinarily wear purple and white, have done a crash course in the UA’s staple game-day numbers, and will be outfitted in red. Let’s hope the Demons get it right and don’t form a pitchfork at the 50-yard line.
Dear Mr. Football: Is there much of a cultural difference between Boston College and Arizona?
A: When UA coach Larry Smith took the USC job in January 1987, Arizona athletic director Cedric Dempsey tried to hire Boston College coach Jack Bicknell.
Bicknell, who rose to prominence by coaching Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie, flew to Tucson and spent two days touring Tucson and the school’s football facilities.
Finally, before returning to Boston, Bicknell told reporters that he would not be Arizona’s coach. “This part of the country is like the other side of the moon to me,” he said.
Dear Mr. Football: What do Carey and Williams most have in common?
A: They make the bad teams pay.
Williams gained 295 yards against New Mexico State and 263 against Army. Carey rushed for 232 against Utah and, memorably, 366 last year against Colorado.
The notable difference between BC and Arizona is that the Eagles are the equivalent of a walk-it-up basketball team, snapping just 59 plays per game. That’s 21 fewer than RichRod’s up-tempo offense.
The Eagles will try to knock Arizona on its can. The Wildcats will attempt to exhaust BC.
BC is Washington State without a mad scientist at the coaching controls. This time, unlike their collapse against Wazzu, the Wildcats should be paying attention.
But I like BC and its kicker, Mr. Freese, to put the Wildcats on ice. BC 33, Arizona 30.