FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Denker prepares as if he's starting

2012-11-07T00:00:00Z 2014-08-07T17:52:04Z Arizona football: Denker prepares as if he's startingRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 07, 2012 12:00 am  • 

On the day that quarterback Matt Scott's concussion was confirmed to the football-curious world, B.J. Denker walked into the UA football offices and sat down.

For the next six hours, Denker - the Arizona Wildcats' presumptive starter with Scott out - watched game tape, took notes and tried to mentally prepare as best as he could.

The dedication was impressive, given what was expected of the Wildcats on Monday.

"It was our day off," Denker said. "Usually, we go home, and it's our time to relax. But I know I need to be in position to be successful. I know I need to get extra work in."

Scott's injury, suffered in last weekend's loss at UCLA, has put the junior in line for the first start of his college career.

The transfer from Cerritos (Calif.) College will likely be under center when the Wildcats take on Colorado on Saturday at Arizona Stadium.

Easygoing and popular among his teammates - what backup quarterback isn't? - the 6-foot-3-inch, 177-pound Denker is showing a more serious streak this week.

For the junior, the stakes have never been higher.

With a solid performance Saturday, Denker can help the Wildcats (5-4 overall, 2-4 Pac-12) become bowl eligible. His first foray into major-college football has been a mixed bag: In five games, Denker has completed 13 of 23 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. Denker struggled against the Bruins, completing 2 of 5 passes for 12 yards and rushing eight times for seven yards. He fumbled once.

Numbers aside, Denker has won over coaches and teammates with his work ethic.

"I'm proud of the boy, man," quarterbacks coach Rod Smith said. "He knows this is his shot. He knows the only way to succeed is prepare."

Denker talked football, family and film with reporters Tuesday. Here are some highlights:

On his expectations for Saturday: "It doesn't matter who's back there. As long as we execute, it's the same thing. … They're not cutting down on the offensive playbook. We're going to run the same stuff; it's about making the right reads and exercising properly."

On his relationship with Scott: "We talk. He was in film room with me (Tuesday). We're always bouncing ideas off each other. The one thing he said was, 'Get the tempo going.' The faster we play, the easier it is because the defense has to 'vanilla-up' a little bit. It's all about going fast. That's what the most important thing is."

On whether playing against UCLA will help him against Colorado: "It definitely helps. I'm more comfortable now. If this was the first time (playing), I'd be a little nervous. But that's going to help me."

On his chance: "I never want to go into a game hoping Matt gets hurt so I can play. I hope he has trust in me that I can come out, if I do play, and get a win. I want to do something to help the team. We're going to be bowl-eligible if we get a win; that's our main focus."

On whether, as a JC player, he ever thought he'd start at a major college program: "Not at all. This is a dream come true, especially last week, playing in front of my home crowd. I was a UCLA fan growing up. This whole year has been a great experience. I've really enjoyed it."

On his emotions after UCLA: "I wasn't happy at all. You can't be happy after that. The one positive I took out was maybe I got a little extra playing time. there was no happiness."

On whether he'll carry himself differently as a starter: "That's the wrong way to go about it. The quarterback has to be a leader every time, whether you're the starter or not. It's the same attitude as always."

On his family: "I'm the oldest of six kids. They'll all be there - I have a brother who's a senior in high school, a sister who's a sophomore, a sister who's 10 and then twin brothers who are 5 1/2. … My aunts and my uncles are here for every game, and my parents haven't missed a game. It's not just my dream. My mom has driven me to football and basketball practice since I was 4 years old. My dad is the proudest dad, even if I don't play. He's enjoying the experience just like I am."

Meet B.J. Denker

• Name: Brandon Dean Denker

• Height/Weight: 6 feet 3 inches, 177 pounds

• Year: Sophomore

• Hometown (high school): Torrance, Calif. (North Torrance HS)

• Age: 21

• Before Arizona: Denker completed 160 of 286 passes for 2,319 yards and 31 touchdowns as a sophomore at Cerritos (Calif.) College.

• This season: In five games, Denker has rushed 12 times for 30 yards and completed 13 of 23 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. He has been intercepted once.

• Nickname: "Vanilla Vick." Denker is left-handed, like Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, and wears No. 7.

• Turning point: Denker was a 6-1, 165-pound freshman before he grew two inches. He took a redshirt season at Cerritos and has two years at the UA to play two seasons.

• Coach says: "B.J. is playing all right. I think his decision-making, his demeanor and his command of what we're asking him to do is good." - Rich Rodriguez

Mora: Scott wasn't at 'Full strength'

UCLA coach Jim Mora openly wondered Tuesday whether Arizona Wildcats quarterback Matt Scott was healthy in Saturday's 66-10 Bruins victory.

On a weekly teleconference, he was asked about UCLA's win Saturday and its 43-17 loss at Cal on Oct. 6. Both games were expected to be more competitive.

"This past week, we played a good game," Mora said. "I don't believe that Arizona was operating at full strength offensively.

"I think their quarterback maybe, he wasn't pulling the trigger quite like he had in past games. I'm not sure - I'm not qualified to say that - if that was a hangover from the week before, when he took the hit late in the game, or if it was just, we were doing good things on defense."

UA coach Rich Rodriguez agreed with Mora on one point.

"He's done a good job with his team - but he doesn't know what's going on with my team," Rodriguez said. "I know what's going on with my team. I don't know what's going on with his team."

Scott vomited after a hit in the fourth quarter Oct. 27 against USC. UA coaches said he did not have a concussion. Last Saturday, Scott left the game with a concussion after a third-quarter hit.

Patrick Finley

On StarNet: Chat with Ryan Finley about college football at noon Thursday at live.azstarnet.com

Up next

• Who: Colorado (1-8, 1-5) at Arizona (5-4, 2-4)

• When: 11:30 a.m. Saturday

• TV: FX

• Radio: 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Free Wildcats Sports Newsletter

University of Arizona sports news and blog headlines, delivered daily


Follow the Arizona Daily Star

Deals, offers & events

View more...