B.J. Denker is no Matt Scott.
For one, he's left-handed - and that could be a problem when the Arizona Wildcats take on Colorado this morning at Arizona Stadium. Left-handed quarterbacks can create issues, whether it's the way plays are called on how receivers catch the ball.
There's one big plus, though.
"I've always said that lefties throw a prettier ball, just naturally," Denker said.
In Tucson, that's a treat - or at least a rarity. Denker will become the third lefty in modern program history to start at quarterback. George Malauulu was the UA's leading passer from 1990 to 1992, and Nic Costa - a southpaw from Aloha, Ore. - started three games in 2003 before being replaced by Ryan O'Hara, a righty.
But things aren't always all right for lefties. The southpaw's ascent to starter will force Arizona to:
• Tweak the playbook: Arizona runs all of its plays out of the shotgun, which means the center-quarterback exchange stays the same regardless of the quarterback's handedness. And the Wildcats' QBs can hand off regardless of where the running back is set up. Still, expect the UA to run more plays to the left of the field - Denker's strong side - against Colorado. That way, the quarterback can throw on the run instead of across his body.
• Track with their eyes: Like baseball pitchers, quarterbacks all have different arm slots when they throw. Getting used to Denker's may take a little time.
"The way he throws is different," wide receiver Austin Hill said. "To a receiver, every quarterback has a different feel when you catch a ball. I have practiced with B.J. a lot, so I'm comfortable with him passing the ball to me - lust like Matt."
"It doesn't matter who is playing quarterback, as long as he is getting the job done."
• Catch carefully: Left-handed quarterbacks can throw off their receivers because of the way the ball spins counter-clockwise coming out of their hands. Maybe that's why lefties, from Boomer Esiason and Steve Young to Michael Vick, all seem to just look better throwing the ball.
The spin has "always been the conversation for all left-handed quarterbacks," Denker said. "Every receiver that I've talked to says, 'I think the ball comes out different.' That's just just because I'm left-handed. I don't think its because of the way I throw."
The last time
Steamrolled in Boulder: Cats gave up 500 yards, Foles picked off 3 times
Date: Nov. 12, 2011
What went down: Senior Rodney Stewart ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns, and Colorado registered its first-ever Pac-12 Conference victory with a 48-29 win over Arizona at Folsom Field.
How it read: Greg Hansen had two words for the loss - "rock bottom" - and one bold projection. He wrote:
"Colorado was probably the worst team to beat Arizona since 1983, when a 1-10 Stanford team shocked the Wildcats 31-22. And if not the worst, does it matter? Colorado's victory on Saturday doesn't change things; the Buffaloes are still pretty crummy. Arizona is the next level down.
"Let the next coach, Rich Rodriguez or Larry Fedora or whoever, chew on that when contract talks reach the critical stage. The Wildcats were crushed by a team that had given up more than 500 yards to USC, ASU, Stanford, Oregon and Washington."
Turning point: Colorado scored 27 points in the second and third quarters combined. Quarterback Tyler Hansen's touchdown catch from Stewart on a flea-flicker gave the Buffaloes a 34-10 lead with 3 minutes 50 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Stats that matter: With Stewart leading the way, Colorado rushed for a season-high 273 yards. The Buffaloes gained more total yards (500) than Arizona (412) and intercepted UA quarterback Nick Foles three times. The game was played in a winter storm.
It's history: Arizona fell to 2-8 with the loss, then won its final two games - an upset over Arizona State in Tempe and a win over bowl-bound Louisiana-Lafayette at Arizona Stadium. Rodriguez was hired in between the two games. Colorado split its final two games and finished 3-10.
Nation's 3rd-hardest slate
Colo. gives UA break from Top 25 foes
Following a hellish month, the UA is finally catching a bit of a break. And no, it has nothing to do with the seasons finally changing in Tucson.
Colorado (1-8) is the first of Arizona's FBS opponents not to be ranked at some point this season.
Toledo, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, USC and UCLA all spent time in The Associated Press Top 25 this season; the Ducks (second), Beavers (13th), Cardinal (16th), Bruins (17th) and Trojans (21st) are still ranked.
Stats guru Jeff Sagarin ranks Arizona's schedule as the third-toughest in America, and Colorado's as the 12th-toughest. The Wildcats' FBS opponents are a combined 54-16 this season.
Morning starts a rare occurrence for Cats
The Arizona Wildcats will kick off today's game before lunchtime. And while the early start is bad for homecoming tailgating - beer is out, bloody marys and mimosas are in; breakfast burritos replace, well, regular burritos - it may be good for the home team's chances.
The 11:30 a.m. start time is the earliest for a home game since Nov. 12, 1983, when the Wildcats kicked off at 10:30 a.m. Arizona defeated UCLA in the program's first-ever nationally televised game. CBS's Gary Bender and analyst Pat Haden, now the athletic director at USC, called it.
The Wildcats played a 10:30 a.m. road game against Colorado three years later and won 24-21 - the program's first, and so far only, victory against the Buffaloes. The program's most memorable morning start came on Jan. 1, 1994, when they took on Miami (Fla.) in the Fiesta Bowl. Invigorated (we'll guess) by the Tempe sun, Arizona won 29-0 in a game that kicked off at 11 a.m.
Ka'deem Carey Q&A
Carey could run wild against Colorado's D
Arizona's injured quarterback and Colorado's inability to stop the run could mean good things for Ka'Deem Carey today.
The Wildcats' sophomore running back figures to get more touches than ever with B.J. Denker under center, as Arizona is expected to run more than throw with Matt Scott hurt.
Coach Rich Rodriguez said he expects Carey to be a major part of the offense, obviously. Just how much he is used could depend on how long it takes the Wildcats to build a lead.
"The ball only weighs a few ounces. He can carry it 30 times a game," Rodriguez said. "Ka'Deem's a strong, strong guy."
The sophomore tailback broke the 1,000-yard mark in last weekend's loss to UCLA, becoming the first four-digit rusher under coach Rodriguez since West Virginia's Steve Slaton did it in 2007. Carey is the 13th 1,000-yard rusher in program history. Of those, just two others - Art Luppino (1954) and Nic Grigsby (2008) - did it as sophomores. That year for Grigsby was the best of his career.
The Star talked to Carey this week about his expectations, workload and what he'll do with Scott out:
On whether Scott's injury changes his workload: "Yeah, of course. I mean, me being that guy and missing Scott is big. Without Scott, I feel like the running back is the next person that steps in."
On his relationship with Denker, who is expected to start at quarterback today: "We've bonded in practice already. I just want him to be comfortable back there. It's all about me and him just communicating."
On how Denker's different: "He makes jokes - Matt's more focused, more into it; B.J., he just likes to be relaxed."
On facing Colorado's defense, which is allowing a conference-worst 204.2 rushing yards per game: "Yeah. My eyes light up. It's an opportunity, and I'm looking forward to it."
On the UA becoming bowl-eligible with a win: "It would be an accomplishment, but we're looking for a certain bowl game. We're not trying to start with just any bowl game. Right now, we've just got Colorado. We've got to try to beat them."
Colorado at Arizona • 11:30 a.m. • FX • 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Spanish)
Game-day breakdown by Ryan Finley
Arizona vs. Colorado, by the numbers
Arizona's all-time record against Colorado. The Wildcats' lone win came in 1986.
Total point differential in Arizona's 15 games against CU, with the Buffaloes outscoring the Wildcats 436-198.
Colorado's cumulative football record since winning being crowned The Associated Press national champions in 1990.
Arizona's record during the same period of time.