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Denker to make first start at UA

Basketball roots should help him at QB; point guard duties similar
2012-11-10T00:00:00Z 2014-08-07T17:51:37Z Denker to make first start at UARyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 10, 2012 12:00 am  • 

The plan was always to play basketball.

Problem was, B.J. Denker's body never seemed to cooperate.

Denker stayed the same size when most of his high school friends hit their growth spurts, and - as a 6-foot-1-inch, 160-pound point guard - didn't exactly look the part of a basketball star.

By the time Denker finally shot up, 2 inches in a year during his second junior-college season, his plans had changed.

"I finally grew, and I became a football player," Denker said. "My body type is better suited for a football player anyway."

Denker will make his first career start at quarterback when Arizona takes on Colorado this morning at Arizona Stadium.

To be successful, he'll have to channel his basketball roots. Quarterbacks in coach Rich Rodriguez's system, after all, are point guards at heart: They must distribute the ball, set the offensive tempo and, when possible, take their shots.

Colorado (1-8 overall, 1-5 Pac-12) is having such a poor season that Denker, a transfer from Cerritos (Calif.) College, might be able to afford a turnover or two.

A victory over the conference's worst team would make Arizona (5-4, 2-4) bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010. Rodriguez, a slow starter at his previous stops, also would be assured of a .500 or better record in his first season.

It is, if nothing else, an attainable goal: Following today's game, Arizona will finish its season at Utah and at home against Arizona State.

Injuries have turned what might have otherwise been a sure thing against Colorado into something a bit more dicey.

Starting quarterback Matt Scott is expected to miss today's game because of a concussion suffered in last week's 66-10 loss at UCLA.

And two other starters - safety Jourdon Grandon and guard Chris Putton - are listed as doubtful to play because of head injuries. Linebacker Hank Hobson is out with a neck injury, while fullback/defensive end Taimi Tutogi - who tweaked his neck in practice a week ago - is questionable to play.

Dogged by injuries and coming off its most embarrassing loss in years, Arizona is still expected to cruise. Las Vegas oddsmakers have listed the Wildcats as 30-point favorites over CU, which has been outscored 313-51 in its last four games.

The Buffaloes will debut a new quarterback today, though coach Jon Embree has yet to say whether it will be junior Jordan Webb or sophomore Nick Hirschman.

Arizona's point total may depend on what Denker is asked to do. Widely believed to be a better runner than thrower, the 6-foot-3-inch, 177-pound Denker could turn the Wildcats' pass-first offense into a ground game.

In his final season at Cerritos, Denker rushed for 420 yards and seven touchdowns on 92 attempts. Factor in the yards he lost via sacks, and the numbers would have been much better.

Rodriguez played coy when asked if the Wildcats' plans would change today with Denker under center.

Wide receiver Richard Morrison will back him up at QB, while Javelle Allen - a true freshman who plans to redshirt - will be available in an emergency.

"Why would I say?" Rodriguez said. "We're going to run what we run."

For the UA, that may mean a whole lot of running.

"I can have a quarterback that's not real mobile," Rodriguez said. "I'm just fortunate that all my guys are."

TODAY

• Who: Colorado (1-8, 1-5 Pac-12) at Arizona (5-4, 2-4)

• When: 11:30 a.m.

• TV: FX

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

More inside Preview the day with Insider, hot sheet and a Top 25 breakdown. B4-B6

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Pac-12 South football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Arizona 7 2 0 0.778 10 3 0 0.769
USC 6 3 0 0.667 9 4 0 0.692
UCLA 6 3 0 0.667 9 3 0 0.750
Arizona State 6 3 0 0.667 10 3 0 0.769
Utah 5 4 0 0.556 9 4 0 0.692
Colorado 0 9 0 0.000 2 10 0 0.167

Pac-12 North football standings

  Conference Overall
Team W L T PCT W L T PCT
Oregon 8 1 0 0.889 12 1 0 0.923
Stanford 5 4 0 0.556 7 5 0 0.583
Washington 4 5 0 0.444 8 5 0 0.615
Cal 3 6 0 0.333 5 7 0 0.417
Washington State 2 7 0 0.222 3 9 0 0.250
Oregon State 2 7 0 0.222 5 7 0 0.417
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