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Arizona vs. UTSA: Wildcats Quarterback B.J. Denker silences critics, for now

Hey look, a passing game.

B.J. Denker and the passing game showed some newfound confidence against UTSA
B.J. Denker and the passing game showed some newfound confidence against UTSA
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

"I felt good."

That's the general sentiment here as well after watching B.J. Denker pick apart UTSA's defense on Saturday.

Denker finished the night with 158 passing yards, almost as many as he had in the first two games combined.

"It was a good day," said Denker.  "I was happy with my performance."

The first drive showed that the passing game has some real potential.  Of eleven total offensive plays during the first possession, Denker threw the ball seven times, completing six of them, including a 13 yard touchdown pass to Samajie Grant, which put the Wildcats in front for good.

A lot of people were questioning if this offense would work being so run heavy, but tonight I think showed that if there's a time that Denker needs to make plays, he's capable of doing it.

"We threw the ball quite a bit the first drive.  I don't know if that was the plan, we were just going off what the defense was giving us.  We were just clicking."

Denker finished the night completing 14-of-21 passes, as well as rushing for 95 yards on 10 carries.  Two rushing touchdowns puts the Arizona QB at five for the year, one ahead of Ka'Deem Carey for the team lead.

"We're out there ballin'," said Carey.

The receiving unit seemed to click a little better tonight as well.  Samajie Grant had a breakout game, catching five balls for 48 yards.  Garic Wharton also contributed with three catches of his own.

All teams that have the amount of inexperience that Arizona has is going to go through some growing pains.  Having a schedule that gradually became more difficult leading into conference play was exactly what this quarterback and this offense needed.

"You gotta play," said head coach Rich Rodriguez.  "We're getting more confidence in (Denker).  And I think I've seen it as much in practice.  I would have liked the execution on the first of August, but that's because we can't work with them during the summer."

"The execution's gotten better the last few weeks in practice, and I think it's gotten better in the games too.  The challenge is going to be when we get to conference play."

"He's seeing the field pretty well...This was the sharpest he's been all year."

Here's where we are now.  B.J. Denker is the starting quarterback.  There's no going back now.  Javelle Allen's been in all three games, but doesn't have a pass attempt.  But Denker, if anything, has shown that he's gaining an understanding of the offense.  Sure, he makes some mistakes, like locking in on a receiver and not going through all the reads, but his athleticism makes up for some of that.  His legs should not be overlooked.

"Maybe I look slow on film," said Denker.  "And then once the game starts they don't realize.  I'll take any speed I can."

"He runs fast when he's getting chased," added Rodriguez.  "He's getting more and more confidence, which he should.  B.J. can make all the throws and he can make the plays.  It'll be good."

If one thing outside of his play that solidified Denker's spot happened on Saturday, it was the absence of Jesse Scroggins.

With the struggles in the first two games, Denker's dealt with his fair share of critcism, but he' doesn't let that bother him too much.

"You can't take it to seriously, I usually ignore it," Denker said.  "You can't get angry in this day and age on social media.  Anyone can be a twitter troll or cyber bully, I don't take it too seriously."

All in all, passing game is developing and getting better.  The run game will be the focus point obviously, but I think Denker will handle himself well heading into PAC-12 play.