At this point last year, Rich Rodriguez had a pretty good idea B.J. Denker would be his starting quarterback.
Of course he wouldn’t share that with anyone, but deep down, he knew Denker was his guy.
“I think it was because he had a little more experience and his knowledge was way ahead of the other guys,” Rodriguez said. “That part had him separated, and it continued in the fall.”
Fast-forward a year, and the UA coach is again staying mum on the quarterback position. This time it seems a bit more genuine.
The Wildcats are nearing the completion of spring drills — they have four practices and the spring game left — and Rodriguez said there is still no clear favorite at quarterback.
“I thought there would be more separation by now, but there really hasn’t been,” Rodriguez said. “One through five is pretty bunched up right now. If they’re all getting better and getting to the point where we can win with them, that’s a great problem.”
The UA currently has seven quarterbacks on its roster in Jesse Scroggins, Anu Solomon, Connor Brewer, Jerrard Randall, Nick Isham, Khari McGee and walk-on Adam Friederichsen.
Other than Friederichsen, they’ve all worked with the first-team offensive line at points this spring. Scroggins seemed to make the biggest jump early and has continued his improvement since a disappointing debut a year ago, but the 6-foot-3-inch, 208-pound senior from Lakewood, Calif., hasn’t pulled away.
Unlike last year, there isn’t anyone like Denker, who clearly has more experience and knowledge of the offense than the others.
“I’d tell you if one or two had really separated themselves,” Rodriguez said. “It hasn’t been that. I’ve seen them all make the same kind of strides. I don’t think I will know until the end of fall camp.”
He said the defense had been ahead of the offense this spring until last weekend’s scrimmage. Then, the quarterbacks had their best day as a group of the spring, and the offense outperformed the defense.
“(The QBs) are a very conscientious group,” Rodriguez said. “When I ask questions, they give the right answers. We have five practices left, so I’m going to keep putting them under the gun. I haven’t been all negative on them. It’s a straight-up, honest thing, so they don’t have to guess where we are coming from.
“They’re eager to learn; I think they all see it’s a wide-open deal and will be until the fall.”
Rodriguez on nixing Phoenix practice
Rodriguez and the Wildcats were scheduled to practice at Phoenix College on Friday night, but scrapped that plan on Monday.
Instead, the UA will practice at Kindall/Sancet Stadium on Friday afternoon, like normal.
“That’s all my decision,” Rodriguez said. “From a meeting standpoint, the meetings are so critical right now. We need that meeting time and the things we have set up here with the two full practice fields, which we don’t get on the road. That’s all on me. Hopefully the fans will come down to the spring game on the 12th.”
The UA will practice today and Friday and then again twice next week before the spring game on April 12 at Arizona Stadium.
About that defense
The hot topics this spring have clearly been quarterback and Ka’Deem Carey’s eventual replacement at running back.
But there is a defense to think about.
Arizona returns just six of 11 starters next year but continues to develop more depth and talent this spring.
“We just had a meeting a week ago and talked about the first practice when ‘Coach Rod’ and his staff first got here and the first practice this spring,” senior free safety Jourdon Grandon said. “Everyone is flying around to the ball compared to when they first got here. Everyone is competing a lot harder. The overall intensity is a lot higher.
“Everyone comes out looking to get better.”