Arizona Wildcats Football: Surprise, surprise Rich Rod sheds no light on QB competition at Pac-12 Media Day


Rich Rodriguez on the Pac-12 Networks set at Paramount Studios earlier today (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

Rich Rodriguez on the Pac-12 Networks set at Paramount Studios earlier today (Pac-12 Networks screen shot)

Jesse Scroggins is Arizona's lone senior vying for the starting quarterback spot

Jesse Scroggins is Arizona’s lone senior vying for the starting quarterback spot

This time we can believe him … right?

Arizona Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez admitted today on the Pac-12 Networks that he “figured B.J. (Denker) was our guy” at quarterback in the preseason last year after Matt Scott exhausted his eligibility.

“But we wanted to motivate him,” Rodriguez said about not naming a definitive starter between Denker, Jesse Scroggins, Anu Solomon and Javelle Allen.

Here we go again. Denker is gone with his eligibility exhausted. Rodriguez will turn to his third new quarterback in as many years at Arizona. In fact, Rodriguez is faced with having to decide upon a new starter for the ninth time in his 13 years overall as a major-college head coach.

The last time Rodriguez had a repeat starter at quarterback were his last two seasons at West Virginia in 2006 and 2007 with Pat White. He had three different primary starters at Michigan: Steven Threet (2008), Tate Forcier (2009) and Dernard Robinson (2010). He has coached Scott (2012) and Denker (2013) at Arizona. That means in his last six years as a head coach (between 2007-13) he has used six different starting quarterbacks.

Who will be his next primary signal-caller? Scroggins, a senior? Solomon, a redshirt freshman? LSU transfer Jerrard Randall? Texas transfer Connor Brewer? Freshman standout Brandown Dawkins?

If Scroggins, a USC transfer who improved during spring drills, earns the starting role, Rodriguez will be in this familiar uncertain spot again next year having to replace another departed quarterback. He’ll concern himself with 2014 for now.

“The truth is I really don’t know,” Rodriguez said when asked if he had an idea who will be his starter. “The good part is the talent is there and he has talent to throw to, too.”

Rodriguez referenced Arizona’s receiving corps, which goes about eight deep, including returner Austin Hill from a knee injury and dynamic newcomers DaVonte’ Neal (Notre Dame transfer) and Cayleb Jones (Texas transfer).

Is Arizona’s array of talent at receiver enough to make up for the quarterback uncertainty or the loss of Ka’Deem Carey? Arizona’s career rushing leader begins his NFL career this week in Chicago’s camp. Rodriguez noted that Arizona may employ a running back-by-committee with Carey gone.

“We don’t have that one guy who can carry the ball 35 times a game like Ka’Deem,” Rodriguez told the Pac-12 Networks crew, which included host Michael Yam and analysts Rick Neuheisel and Curtis Conway.. “We’ll use a series of guys. We have slot receivers (like Neal) who will play tailback some times.”

Because of Arizona’s fast-paced no-huddle spread offense, the Wildcats will play a lot of reps in practice, which should be to Rodriguez’s advantage when he pares down his quarterback pool in fall camp.

“You can only rep so many guys in practice,” Rodriguez said. “The way we practice, we go through so many plays. We can get three to four players ready for a game. In the week of the game, we’ll try to pare it down to two guys and hopefully they will play well in the first game.”

Arizona opens its season against UNLV at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 29, which is only 37 days away. Rodriguez said on the Pac-12 Networks set at Paramount Studios that he has no idea who will start at quarterback against the Rebels.

He was not putting on a Hollywood act … was he?

Here’s a look at Rodriguez’s leading passers in his 12-year major-college coaching career:

WEST VIRGINIA (2001-2007)

Year Rec QB Class Comp Att Pct Yds TD INT Rate Rush Yds
2001 3-8 Brad Lewis Sr. 135 237 57.0 1339 7 9 106.6 54 41
2002 9-4 Rasheed Marshall Soph. 139 259 53.7 1616 9 5 113.7 173 666
2003 8-5 Rasheed Marshall Jr. 109 215 50.7 1729 15 8 133.8 101 303
2004 8-4 Rasheed Marshall Sr. 144 242 59.5 1886 19 9 143.4 169 861
2005 11-1 Pat White Fr. 65 114 57.0 828 8 5 132.4 131 952
2006 11-2 Pat White Soph. 118 179 65.9 1655 13 7 159.7 165 1219
2007 10-2 Pat White Jr. 144 216 66.7 1724 14 4 151.4 197 1335

MICHIGAN (2008-10)
Year Rec QB Class Comp Att Pct Yds TD INT Rate Rush Yds
2008 3-9 Steven Threet Fr. 102 200 51 1105 9 7 105.3 76 201
2009 5-7 Tate Forcier Fr. 165 281 58.7 2050 13 10 128.1 118 240
2010 7-6 Denard Robinson Soph. 182 291 62.5 2570 18 11 149.6 256 1702

ARIZONA (2012-Present)
Year Rec QB Class Comp Att Pct Yds TD INT Rate Rush Yds
2012 8-5 Matt Scott Sr. 301 499 60.3 3620 27 14 133.5 113 506
2013 8-5 B.J. Denker Sr. 233 381 61.2 2516 16 7 126.8 181 949 publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.

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