The Arizona Wildcats’ second fall practice is in the books, and quarterback B.J. Denker is still trying to hit the standard he set in the spring.
The senior went into the summer as the tenuous No. 1 guy with a lot left to prove. Emphasis so far on “lot left to prove.”
That’s OK. A lot of fall camp waits, and the coaches are very deliberately putting a lot of pressure on Denker to perform.
“No one is down on B.J. We’re just pushing him,” said quarterbacks coach Rod Smith. “We expect more out of him and he expects more out of himself. …
“Is there too much pressure? We don’t think so. You can’t put them in enough situations to see how they are going to react, to see how they are going to handle it.
“B.J. had a tremendous spring, so he set the bar. Now, let’s get better than we were in the spring.”
The coaching staff put Denker off limits to the media for the second consecutive day.
Smith said Denker has made physical improvements in the spring, combining those with some technique tweaks to improve the velocity on his throws.
“I think B.J. Denker can be a very good quarterback, but he’s got to do it,” Smith said. “He’s got to learn how to be consistent. He’s got to learn how to be a leader for the position.”
While the coaching staff is willing to cut freshmen Anu Solomon and Khari McGee some slack (well, at least for a couple of weeks), no such getting-up-to-speed time is extended to returning quarterbacks.
“We have zero patience right now with the upperclassmen,” Smith said.
Meanwhile, junior college transfer Jesse Scroggins missed his second day of practice because of a concussion. He could possibly make his fall camp debut Monday night, Rodriguez said.
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Arizona is still awaiting word on the eligibility status of Davonte’ Neal, the sophomore transfer receiver from Notre Dame. He is appealing to the NCAA for a waiver of the rule that states transfers must sit out a season at their new school.
Rodriguez said Sunday night that a decision could be made in the next couple of days.
Neal, wearing No. 19, has been practicing with the team as a slot receiver. (You can see him catch a pass from Denker in the video below.)
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There has been some speculation in various Arizona season previews that receiver Austin Hill, who suffered a torn ACL in April late in spring ball, could make it back late in the season.
“That’s a long shot for him,” Rodriguez said Sunday night.
Hill, a junior who would have been billed as a potential All-American, has already used his redshirt season. Whether he plays or not in 2013, he will be a senior in terms of eligibility in 2014 if he decides to return to school.
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All but four of the 62 coaches who vote in the USA Today poll selected Alabama as the No. 1 team in the preseason Top 25. Count Rodriguez among the 58.
“I voted Alabama,” he said.
“I don’t even know who they’ve got back. But it’s a pretty good bet with the way they’ve recruited and the way they’ve developed that Alabama is No. 1.”