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Arizona notes: Denker’s efficiency, Bondurant, Tuihalamaka and more

B.J. Denker scores on a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

B.J. Denker scores on a two-point conversion in the fourth quarter. Photo by Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Wildcats quarterback B.J. Denker has attempted 164 passes this season. Only two have been intercepted.

And both of those came on a wet, windy, wretched day in Seattle.

Other than that, Denker, not spectacular, has been mostly efficient, careful with the ball and is growing in confidence as the 4-2 Wildcats hit the midpoint of the season.

He has completed 46 of 74 passes (62.2 percent) for 531 yards, with five touchdowns and no interceptions, in the past two games — a 38-31 loss at USC and a 35-24 win over Utah.

Coach Rich Rodriguez said after the Utah game he saw a boost in Denker’s confidence starting in the second half of the USC game and carrying through practice last week.

“I saw it all week probably for the first time to the level we expect it from our starting quarterback, where he is telling us what to see, he’s telling wide receivers adjustments,” Rodriguez said. “B.J. is a sharp guy.”

Denker was 18 of 30 for 168 yards and a touchdown against the Utes. That’s not headline news in the quarterback-rich Pac-12, but Denker added to his value with 51 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. He also ran for a two-point conversion.

Rodriguez said he was pleased with Denker’s decision-making at the line of scrimmage, other than taking a 7-yard loss on fourth-and-1 from the Utah 2. (Just give the ball to Ka’Deem Carey, right?)

“There were plays he would like to have back,” Rodriguez conceded.

Denker doesn’t always look smooth, sometimes getting a bit antsy in the pocket, spinning and improvising and scrambling like one of the NFL’s best from yesteryear.

“Sometimes, you’re like, ‘What is he doing?’” Rodriguez said. “He’s running around there like Fran Tarkenton or something. At least he competes and I think he will get better every week.”

Denker has completed 91 of 164 passes for 976 yards, with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. He has hit eight passes of at least 20 yards in the past two games.

* * *

I asked Rodriguez if he had received a good explanation for what happened when officials called back Carey’s 65-yard touchdown run in the first half because of a pre-snap whistle.

“I got an explanation,” he said with a smile. “It’s a matter of opinion as to whether it was good or not.”

Rodriguez explained the explanation.

“The explanation was that the clock had not started and something about they blew the whistle before the play started because they had to get the clock going right,” Rodriguez said. “I really wasn’t in the mood to hear that kind of explanation. I didn’t hear a whistle.”

* * *

Starting Spur safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant left the game in the first quarter and did not return while he was evaluated for a concussion. His status for this week was not immediately known.

“Tra’Mayne is one of our best players,” Rodriguez said. “Not just one of our best defensive players, one of our best players, period.”

Sophomore Anthony Lopez came in for Bondurant, while sophomore Will Parks stepped in for Bandit safety Jared Tevis, who missed the game because of a knee injury.

Lopez made four tackles. Parks had five stops and prevented a first down by breaking up a pass on third-and-13 from the Utah 27 in the fourth quarter. The Utes had to settle for a 44-yard field goal to cut the lead to 28-24.

* * *

Tedy and Damon

Former Arizona All-American defensive end Tedy Bruschi was honored at halftime to help celebrate his upcoming induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Earlier in the week, he took a tour of the new Lowell-Stevens Football Facilities and caught up with old friends, including first-year basketball assistant Damon Stoudamire.

Those were two Big Men on Campus a couple of decades ago.

Stoudamire, who is on Twitter at @Iambiggie503 sent out the photo to the right…

* * *

For obvious reasons, Arizona nominated Carey for Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honors (to be announced Monday early afternoon), and also submitted the names of defensive lineman Sione Tuihalamaka and Terris Jones-Grigsby for weekly awards.

Tuihalamaka had a career-high eight tackles, including 1.5 for loss. A highlight play came when he smacked Utah running back Bubba Poole for a loss of 4 yards on third-and-2 from the UA 45 when the Utes were leading 21-20.

Jones-Grigsby had four tackles on special teams.

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