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Live Q&A chat with Daniel Berk on Arizona football

Join Star sports reporter Daniel Berk this Thursday at noon MST for a live Q&A chat on UA football. Submit your questions in the comment box before or during the hour-long chat.

  • Hi everybody. Thanks for stopping by today and chatting some Arizona Wildcats football. Fire away with your best questions...
  • B.J. Denker is a great team guy and runs the ball well. But he's unequivocally the worst passer the UA has had in nine years. (More than that, he's simply not a good passer.) How detrimental will that be to the teams bowl chances?
  • It's certainly a fair question to ask at this point. Before I get to bowl chances, a few things to point out. I think Rich Rodriguez and the offensive coaches truly believe Denker can improve as a passer this season and throw it better than he has the first two games of the season. So, I think there's still a chance you see improvement and things get better. And even though he may be, as you say 'the worst passer the UA has had in nine years,' the coaches believe he's the team's best option right now. All that said, winning in the Pac-12 will certainly be tough if the Wildcats continue to pass the ball the way they have the first two games. I still think getting to six wins is very doable, but if the passing game remains ineffective, it will certainly make it tougher.
  • Daniel, Read your article on Javelle Allen's ongoing development with great interest. Will you quantify where you feel Denker and Allen are on a scale of 1 to 10 in terms of their grasp and execution of RichRod's read option offense please?
  • I'd say Denker is in the 6-8 range and Allen the 5-6 range. Denker's understanding of the offense and what Rodriguez wants in a quarterback is the main reason he's starting for the UA right now. It's not about—at this point—who is the most talented. Denker knows what he's supposed to do with the ball and what he should be looking for, even though his execution in the passing game has left some to be desired so far. Allen's knowledge of the offense is certainly coming along and is better than it was in the spring. If he understood it as well as Denker, there's a good chance he'd be the guy right now.
  • UA has had some soft non conference opponents over the last couple years. Is UTSA going to be the first true test for the defense going into the bye, or do you think it'll be more of the sane on Saturday? Also, do you know the uni combination for this weekend?
  • I'm not sure UTSA will be a "true test" but the Roadrunners will likely provide the best test so far this season. They definitely have some playmakers, but if the UA is dominant on defense again on Saturday, there will still be questions about how good the unit truly is heading into Pac-12 play. I don't know for sure the uni combination for Saturday, but I'm guessing, white pants, red jerseys and white helmets. The white helmets are a certainty at this point.
  • Any news on the depth chart at running back? I would bet its fair to say that Ka'Deem has earned the "starting job" now. Any reaction from RichRod on that?
  • I asked the coach who will start on Saturday at RB and it sounds like both Carey and Jenkins could start. RichRod put the two in the same backfield a few times against UNLV and it's a formation he really likes, especially if the UA is struggling in the passing game. If he starts just one RB, I'd guess it will be Ka'Deem. It seems like Carey is full-go and won't wait to come into the game like last week at UNLV. I'd expect 20-plus carries for Ka'Deem on Saturday and 10-plus for Jenkins.
  • What's the story with Trey Griffey? I thought he was one of the redshirt freshmen who'd play right away — where does he fit in this year?
  • Griffey is still coming along and the coaches believe he'll be a guy that will contribute during his career. It's important to remember that Griffey was a two-star recruit coming out of high school. Not a ton of two-stars contribute big-time as a redshirt freshman. And even though the receivers have drawn some criticism this season and are young, there's still a decent amount of talent there for Griffey to try to jump over. Garic Wharton is a guy the coaches trust as is Terrence Miller. Clive Georges, Nate Phillips and Samajie Grant all seem to be developing a tad faster than Griffey. But, I wouldn't give up on Trey quite yet.
  • What are the chances Jesse Scroggins gets some PT in a blowout type situation?
  • That's a really good question. Fans are eager to see Scroggins in a game for obvious reasons. Rodriguez raved about his arm strength when he first arrived in Tucson and he was rated as a stud coming out of high school. But, he's struggled in practice, often throwing into double coverage, rather than finding the open man. He's also not as knowledgable of Rodriguez's offense as Denker and Allen. If it's a blowout on Saturday, which I'm not sure it will be, I think it's more likely you see Allen (like last week) rather than Scroggins. But, if Rodriguez decided to give Scroggins some PT, it certainly wouldn't be a shocker. He likes to mix things up with no notice.
  • After the first two weeks of the season we still really don't know how good Utah, Colorado and Arizona are. USC is a disaster, UCLA and ASU still have question marks due to schedule. Any revising your predictions for the PAC south now?
  • Not quite yet, because, you're right, we don't know how good anyone really is right now. I'm not sure I see the question marks with UCLA that you do. The Bruins played one game against a bowl team from last year and rolled. We'll find out more this weekend, but I think UCLA is legit. I had Arizona as fourth in the Pac-12 before the season and would still put them there. Ask me again in a few weeks after the UA has two or three conference games under its belt.
  • Daniel, nice work today on the Javelle Allen story. Is he the proverbial "next man up" if Denker gets hurt, or do you think RichRod would take a chance with someone like Solomon? Seems to me like Allen's been used as more of a change-of-pace guy this season.
  • I do think Allen would be the guy at the start if something happened to Denker. Maybe RichRod takes a chance with Jesse Scroggins, but I'd be downright shocked if Anu Solomon were to get a crack before either one of those guys. QBs coach Rod Smith said the other day that Solomon isn't getting as many reps as Denker, Allen and Scroggins. He said that could change, but it doesn't seem like there are immediate plans for it to. I think the coaches—especially RichRod—and happy with the way Allen is coming along and is learning the system and would give him a fair shot.
  • What happened to the ATH Bryan Harper? He was part of last years recruiting class.
  • Harper is now at Fresno State. Here is his FSU bio: www.gobulldogs.com
  • Looks like the Harper link didn't work. But, trust me, he's there!
  • Who's faster....Allen or Denker?
  • Good one! Maybe RichRod will arrange a race next week during the bye week, so we can settle it (that will never happen). But, just based on what I've seen in practice and in limited samples in games, I'd go with Allen. It might have been NAU's slow defensive guys, but Allen looked wicked fast on his 61-yard run in the opener. Denker definitely has some speed, but I think Allen has a little bit more. I'd beat both in a race—no I wouldn't.
  • Can't be more impressed with the play(limited to the SWAT team, as it may) of Derrick Turituri. Have you seen the arms on this guy? Can't believe he's a true freshman. Anyways, haven't heard much about fellow recruit(and his high school teammate) RJ Morgan. In your opinion, was Morgan offered a scholi to entice/lure Turituri's commitment?
  • I don't think Morgan was offered just because of Turituri. The coaching staff liked him and still do. Remember—a lot more true freshman are sitting out right now than playing. So, just because Morgan isn't playing doesn't mean they don't like him. He's also a safety and the UA has quite a bit of depth back there. Turituri has looked impressive. I haven't studied his arms, forgive me. But, he'll certainly be a nice contributor on that defense the next few years, especially as he learns more.
  • Hows it going Daniel always love the articles and wait daily for them to come out. My question for you is about our passing game. I know recently I have seen a few articles about our program worried about having little to no passing game as a deep threat. I know richrod said he will run or pass how ever many times it takes to win but at this point it looks like our only route is the run. With Washington coming up soon do you think that richrod will take the reigns off and let some more passes fly as a test for in game? My other question is about BJ Denker and Javelle Allen. I know Denker is the front runner now but Allen is right there. Do you think we will see more of Allen this game and if so maybe some passing from him because we havent seen any yet? Thanks Daniel
  • Thanks Jay! I do think RichRod let Denker throw it a bit downfield last week at UNLV, Denker just didn't hit on many of them. But, the Wildcats definitely took some chances and tried to get the long-range passing game going. I think he'll continue to try it this weekend. It's one thing if UTSA or UNLV stacks the box to take away the running game, it's another thing when USC does it. The coach knows they have to sling it a bit to help out Ka'Deem Carey, Daniel Jenkins and the running attack. To the other part of your question...I would have been more inclined to think Allen would get some time this weekend if he did last weekend against a bad UNLV team. I still think Denker gets the majority of the time against UTSA.
  • Can we bring back Adam Hall as a Wr? Jk!
  • Always a little room for humor here! I like where your head is at!
  • Based on what you've seen from Arizona's first two opponents and of UTSA on TV, which team's actually the best one? I'd argue UTSA has more eye-test-pasisng players than either of Arizona's first two opponents …
  • I'm with you Jay Hawk. I thought UNLV would be a little better, but man, they were pretty awful last weekend in Sin City. As someone in the press box said (not me) if UNLV was a horse, they would shoot it. I think they'd keep UTSA alive. Larry Coker is definitely building something there and to win eight games last season in just the second year as an FBS team was really impressive. UTSA's quarterback Eric Soza can definitely make some plays and they have a few standouts on defense too. NAU is a good FCS team, but would have a tough time hanging with the Roadrunners.
  • Hi Daniel, thanks for all your hard work. What are your keys to the game for each team Saturday night?
  • Make sure to read our insider page on Saturday, BB. I give some keys there. But, a sneak peek: UTSA is obviously going to have to figure out a way to stop Ka'Deem Carey. RichRod talks about how small the UA defense is, UTSA's is smaller and has never faced a RB like Carey. For the UA, the passing game has to improve and Denker has to hit a few passes downfield to open things up. The defense also has to keep creating turnovers.
  • Some secondary questions for you: Tra'Mayne Bondurant has been a BEAST the last two weeks. Do you think he can keep this level of play up going forward? How has Shaq Richardson looked so far? Also, seems like Jared Tevis hasn't really made his presence known thus far, at least at the level he did in his first few games last year. Why do you think that is?
  • Bondurant has looked great and like the team's best player on that side of the ball. That said, it's going to be tough to keep up that pace as the season progresses and Pac-12 play begins. I also think teams will stop going his way because of his early-season success, so his stats may drop, even though his effectiveness may not. Neither Richardson nor Jonathan McKnight have really been tested so far this season, so it's tough to really asses their play. But, it seems like both are holding up just fine. Tevis popped out more to me last week than against NAU and should get more in the flow as teams start going away from Bondurant and more at Tevis.
  • Gear question: It appears Arizona has taken the stripes off their white helmets, and will go with the storm-trooper look. Good because its consistent, or bad because it doesn't look as good?
  • I say good because it's consistent. I wasn't a huge fan of how some UA helmets had stripes and others didn't. I also just prefer the simpler look without the stripes, so I think altogether, it's a better look for the Cats.
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