Hi everybody. Thanks for stopping by today and chatting some Arizona Wildcats football. Fire away with your best questions...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Looks like the Harper link didn't work. But, trust me, he's there!
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.
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.
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.
Always a little room for humor here! I like where your head is at!
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.
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.
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.
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.