B.J. Denker entered this season with one start in his career, and a lot of doubters.
Arizona Wildcats fans weren't sure if the senior would be able to succeed in the Rich Rodriguez style of offense because he doesn't come off as an athletic dude. It didn't help that in the first game of the year against NAU, backup QB Javelle Allen entered when the game was in hand, and broke off a 61 yard TD run like it was nothing.
But coach Rodriguez was always praising the smarts that Denker showed during fall camp, and heading into the regular season practice schedule. Denker was also constantly talking about how he was hoping his mental game would be enough for the coaches to put their trust in him.
The trust that was given is now starting to pay off in a big way.
Starting with the second half of the USC game, Denker has come into his own against Pac-12 South rivals Utah and Colorado. Over the last 10 quarters and 2 minutes, he has thrown for 662 yards. The previous 18 quarters? 579 passing yards.
This is why Rodriguez picked his guy, and stuck with him, even through the tough games at UNLV and Washington, where Denker completed 38.1% and 40% of his passes respectively.
Denker needed time to grow, time to learn how to read defenses in real time. Sure, he doesn't have the best arm in the world, but outside of Nick Foles and Matt Scott, what Arizona QBs have?
Outside of those UNLV and Washington games, he has completed at least 60% of his throws, and has at least one passing TD in each of those five games. Another HUGE thing that Denker has been able to do is take care of the ball. His three interceptions thrown this year are the second-fewest in the Pac-12 behind Marcus Mariota. Not bad company if you ask me.
So how has he progressed? Here's a couple charts showing his passing attempts/completions, and the yardage he's accounted for in each game.
Everything takes time. Sometimes fans need to see results right away to believe in something, but you got the feeling that the coaching staff knew what they were doing the whole time. And it's clearly better to stick with one guy behind center than to change it up throughout the year. Look at how USC has done since Cody Kessler has been the only guy behind center instead of splitting time.
RichRod knew what he was doing putting his trust in B.J. Denker, and Denker has repaid the favor in a big way.