Arizona vs. Washington final score: Understanding the B.J. Denker situation

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

B.J. Denker struggled at quarterback as expected, but the expectations never said it'd be easy to replace Matt Scott.

Complain about the quarterback situation all you want. That's fine. But the Arizona Wildcats' 31-13 loss to the Washington Huskies isn't about one player. It was about a better team beating a lesser one because of an issue that's much deeper than anything frustrating thing you probably said during the game.

"B.J. Denker is not a good quarterback," is fair.

"B.J. Denker is worthless," is not.

"Anu Solomon should play," is silly, because he's supposed to be redshirting and has at least four players ahead of him on the depth chart.

Denker went 14-for-35 for 119 yards and two interceptions on a rainy Saturday at Husky Stadium. He looked flustered from the onset of seeing real Pac-12 pressure for the first time in his career. But be mad at Rich Rodriguez for not giving backup Javelle Allen a bigger shot. Blame Allen and Nick Isham for failing to take Denker's job in practice.

Arizona was left with recruiting issues, and that was the biggest reason for the result Saturday in Seattle. Blame Mike Stoops.

After being stuffed on two runs on the first possession of the game, Denker went pass on a third-and-long and threw a pick to Washington's Sean Parker, who brought the return back eight yards. The Huskies scored fairly quickly from 35 yards out but flubbed the extra point play.

The special teams miscue would be returned and then-some by the Wildcats.

Washington seemingly had all the promise early on, but Shaq Richardson picked off a Keith Price pass and the Arizona defense continued to hold. Field position swung in the Huskies favor, however, and it paid off when Arizona punter Drew Riggleman couldn't handle a snap deep in UA territory and lost the ball out of the endzone, resulting in a safety. A field goal by Washington early in the second quarter gave it an 11-0 advantage.

Denker finally gained composure in the end of the first half. He burst out for a 33-yard rush as part of a 14-play, 84-yard drive that ended in a touchdown -- and missed point-after attempt -- as Arizona trailed 11-6 at halftime.

Remember, this is about a Husky team that's better than Arizona. Running back Bishop Sankey was en route to taking 50 carries, and he finished with 40 carries for 161 yards. The damage was done.

The Huskies came out slinging the ball about in the second half, after Price had oddly similar numbers to Denker in the first. Tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins got involved and a 1-yard catch for a score gave Washington an 18-6 lead five minutes into the third quarter. UW coach Steve Sarkisian continued to ride Sankey, and the Wildcats' defense began to wear. They allowed scores on three UW third-quarter drives of 75 yards -- two of more than 90 yards -- or more.

Once the rain cleared up, Price went into attack mode. He finished 14-of-25 for 165 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and especially was impactful in the third quarter, by the end of which UW had built a 25-13 lead. With 11 minutes left in the game and Arizona driving in what seemed like a must-score situation considering their apprehensive tempo and grind-it-out success, Denker ran left, threw right on a jump-pass and summed up his night.

The Wildcats' ambitions for an impressive win went out the window with that throw, and the Huskies tacked on one more score in the fourth for good measure.

The Wildcats are what we expected.

Ka'Deem Carey took 30 carries for 132 yards but never became a breakaway threat as Washington dared the Wildcats to do anything but run. He's good, but won't keep Arizona's offense churning without a semblance of a passing attack. The defense showed a grittiness we saw last season but isn't capable of holding an explosive and versatile offense to less than 30 points -- not many people are capable of doing that.

It's easy to ask for a stubborn Rich Rodriguez to try something else at quarterback. But Matt Scotts don't grow on trees, you know.

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