Arizona offense gearing up for Pac-12 play

Arizona's offense has been dominated by the run game for the first three contests of the season. Read on to find out how that could change heading into Pac-12 play, how the receivers are adjusting, and more.

The Arizona Wildcats are 3-0 on the season, but they have won the three games in a very different fashion than they did last season, as they have dominated opponents with a stellar run game.

The first few games of the year were won handily, but Arizona will be in for a challenge when it travels to Washington after the bye week. The Wildcats have even already started preparing for the game against the Huskies.

"We went through practice pretty well," quarterback B.J. Denker said. "We started working hard and we aren't taking any time off even though it is a bye week.

"We jumped right in and started with preparations for Washington. I think the offense had a good day."

Arizona's quarterback has never been to Spokane, but he has heard about the road game and saw the Huskies live in Tucson a year ago. Denker knows that he will be a key to the offense's success.

"We know it is going to be a hostile environment on the road," Denker said. "They have a really good defense. We just need to get the offense going early on in the game. I need to recognize the tendencies that they have and attack the holes that they have in their defense."

The Arizona coaches know what needs to be fixed. Arizona is winning the turnover battle on the season, but needs to be better in conference play.

"We need to delete the negative plays," Co-Offensive Coordinator Calvin Magee said. "A couple of the balls we have put on the ground have just been due to carelessness. Taking care of the ball and getting rid of the negative plays are what's most important."

The Wildcats also know that plenty of defenses will be keying in on the running backs, Ka'Deem Carey and Daniel Jenkins. It may open up other options for the offense.

"Teams are going to be playing a lot more man defense against us," Magee said. "They are going to be loading the box because of the run game, but we have some new wrinkles that we haven't used yet. We have some answers for the defenses and we have pride in having those answers."

Throwing down field was something that was attempted very little in the first few games. Denker took more shots down field in the win over UTSA, but there is still some work to be done before the Washington game.

"We want the passing game to get more vertical than it has been," Head Coach Rich Rodriguez said. "It's not that we don't have the plays in there. We just have to connect better. We have gotten better in practice with it.

"It's always going to be a big part of the offense, especially with the way the running game is going. If they are going to keep those safeties down low, we can go over the top a little bit."

Even with the work that needs to be done, Arizona's quarterback feels that the receivers have come a long way since the start of camp.

"All of the receivers have been doing great," Denker said. "Nate (Phillips) and Samajie (Grant) have done a lot in terms of improving since the start of the season. Samajie had a great game the other day. Those two are playing as true freshmen, which is big. Garic Wharton has also been standing out."

Denker's relationship with the receivers may be a key to the passing game in the next few weeks. If he can continue to build strong bonds with them, he may be able to produce a strong passing attack.

"We all have to be consistent and playing at full speed every play, every period," wide receivers coach Tony Dews said. "That will really help B.J. feel more confident and composed going forward.

"B.J. works with all the guys off the field and in the film room. They are all communicating and I think it is coming. They are all still new to it and we expect nothing but perfection from B.J. and the receivers."

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