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Arizona Wildcats

Arizona coach knows team must improve passing game

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez, left, talks with quarterback B.J. Denker, right, during a break in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Washington, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, in Seattle. Washington won 31-13. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

It's not fair to say the Arizona Wildcats' passing game bad.

After all, that would be an insult to the word "bad."

Through four games, quarterback B.J. Denker ranks 115th among FBS quarterbacks in passing yards with 445. He's thrown just two touchdown passes to go along with two interceptions, and he has shown little ability to connect on anything down the field.

In all, Arizona ranks 119th out of 123 teams in passing efficiency.

Saturday in Washington, Denker completed just 14-of-35 passes for 119 yards and two picks in Arizona's 31-13 loss.

Whereas the hope was the team's passing game would improve over the course of the season, it appears, if anything, it has regressed.

"I would say the first game we were below average, the second game we were better," Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Tuesday. "The third game it was around there. The last game, I thought we played really poorly."

Few will argue.

Rodriguez noted the weather may have played a factor, as it rained -- heavily -- for most of the afternoon. That and the wind made for difficult conditions, and both offenses suffered through it.

But Denker and the passing game never got going, and Rodriguez knows if things don't improve there his team will struggle to score points, even with All-American Ka'Deem Carey leading the nation's ninth-best rushing attack.

"We do have to be able to throw the ball better," he said. "We were spoiled with Matt (Scott), and for us to have success against the USCs and everybody else, we've got to be able to pitch and catch better."

Rodriguez said his team has done it in practice and is improving, but it has to translate onto the field in games.

"It's going to be a point of contention because people are going to bring everybody in the box and make us throw the football, and if we can't pitch and catch a little bit it's going to be hard to do," he said of moving the ball. "And it should be easy to do in our offense because we're in a shotgun all the time and we're usually in spread.

"We're built to throw the ball a whole lot more, like we did last year."

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