In his second season at West Virginia, Rich Rodriguez’s quarterback inventory was such that he was forced to start Rasheed Marshall, a sophomore who had sat on the Mountaineers bench for two years, and earlier been re-routed to Valley Forge Military Academy for further seasoning.
Not to suggest Marshall wasn’t a good quarterback, but he was subsequently drafted by the San Francisco 49ers — as a receiver.
And yet RichRod coached West Virginia to a 9-4 record in 2002, Marshall’s first season as a starting college QB.
If there is one coach in college football undeterred by his team’s 48.9 percent pass completion rate, it is probably RichRod. (How bad is 48.9 percent? Arizona’s George Malauulu, a noted non-passer, completed 49 percent of his throws in 1992.)
So I wouldn’t give up on B.J. Denker yet.
RichRod further built his career and reputation by nurturing a second non-passer, Pat White.
A lefty from Mobile, Ala., White was essentially dismissed by all SEC schools except LSU. He was seen as a receiver/cornerback, a combo athlete lacking BCS passing skills. His best sport was baseball; he would become a fourth- round draft pick of the then-Anaheim Angels.
But Rodriguez persisted, pledging that White would be his quarterback, a promise no other elite school would make. Bingo. White led West Virginia to a 32-5 record under Rodriguez, completing, in order, 63.2, 63.9 and 66.4 percent of his passes.
I’m not suggesting Denker is anywhere near Pat White’s class as a QB or as a passer. But White sat on WVU’s bench for 18 games and only got a chance to start when senior Adam Bednarik suffered a knee injury.
At the time, in mid-2005, Bednarik had completed 73.3 percent of his passes and the Mountaineers were 6-1 and rolling. Enter Pat White, who, with less experience than the B. J. Denker of 2013, went 5-0.
Arizona has won with less-than-accurate passers. Ortege Jenkins was the Pac-10’s leading freshman offensive player in 1997, hitting on 48.9 percent of his throws. Dan White led Arizona to the 1994 Fiesta Bowl with a 49.8 percentage.
What I’m saying is that the last guy sitting in his office, resigned to failure because his quarterback has trouble throwing strikes, is Rich Rodriguez. Developing QBs is what he does best.