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Who are Arizona’s top two quarterbacks? Maybe not who you think

Jesse Scroggins

Jesse Scroggins takes a snap at the final spring scrimmage. Photo courtesy of Val Valdez photography.

And from the no-news department, there’s the continuing saga of the Arizona Wildcats quarterback race.

After 11 practices in fall camp, not one quarterback has clearly exceeded the others — at least from the little coach Rich Rodriguez has offered — and he seems collectively unhappy with the lot of them.

The only quarterback he has allowed to talk to the media since Friday is Louisiana Tech sophomore walk-on transfer Nick Isham. Take that how you will (keeping in mind that all true freshmen are off limits for now).

Rodriguez was asked after Tuesday morning’s practice about his quarterbacks, specifically “those two guys.”

“What two guys?” he asked back. “We have more than two.”

The reporter asked if B.J. Denker and Jesse Scroggins were the top two guys (which is what has generally been assumed how the competition would shake out).

“Nope,” Rodriguez replied. “That tell you enough there?”

Well, not really.

Rodriguez wasn’t more forthcoming than that. He’s working without a depth chart and doesn’t plan on having one that’s available for public consumption until game week. The quarterback competition is expected to be pared later this week, so the team can begin to fully prepare two or three for competition.

“It’s hard to pare it down when you don’t get the play that you want,” Rodriguez said.

Various coaches’ comments through camp suggest Denker has been struggling. Scroggins has missed several practices because of a pre-camp concussion.

Nick Isham throws against Southern Miss as a starter in the first game of his true freshman season. Photo by Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Isham throws against Southern Miss as a starter in the first game of his true freshman season. Photo by Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

“Rusty,” Rodriguez said Monday about how Scroggins was looking in practice.

“He has a lot of talent. It’s important to him. He’s a good guy. But his rust has showed. So, he’s got to knock that off.”

Rodriguez, by the way of the media, challenged the rest of the quarterbacks — who include sophomore Javelle Allen, true freshman Anu Solomon and true freshman Khari McGee — by praising Isham on Monday.

“It’s probably more important to him than the rest of the quarterbacks,” Rodriguez said.

“He’s a guy who studies, knows what we’re doing, really conscientious. He’s got some skills. I wish he was taller; so does he. But he can’t control that. What he has to do is be a guy that knows exactly what we want and be able to execute it.”

Isham is listed at 6-0 by Arizona, two inches taller than he was at Louisiana Tech. In a uniform, he physically somewhat resembles former UA quarterback Keith Smith, especially when Isham was wearing No. 12 last season as a redshirt. He ceded the number to Solomon and is now No. 14.

Isham has the most FBS experience of any quarterback on the roster. He started seven games as a true freshman with the Bulldogs, completing 155 of 257 passes for 1,457 yards with eight touchdowns and seven interceptions before losing his job.

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Rodriguez talked last month about how he was unsure if All-American running back Ka’Deem Carey would face any playing-time punishment for his offseason off-field problems.

Rodriguez might have already made a decision on Carey’s status for the opener against NAU on Aug. 30, but said he’s “not going to declare it until game week.”

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The Wildcats will hold an open scrimmage Saturday night at Arizona, beginning at 6 p.m. It could be telling in that Rodriguez said the team has had about five minutes of live action so far in camp.

“We need a good week to get tested a bit,” he said, before delivering a one-liner.

“I don’t even know how physical we can get, because guys get concussions walking out of the building.”

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