There was bound to be a bit of a regression for the Arizona Wildcats and their passing attack in 2013 after losing Matt Scott, who was so proficient last season. The offseason injury to No. 1 receiver Austin Hill further put a dent in the possibility of Arizona maintaining their torrid offensive pace with their passing attack. So far, however, it’s been worse than imagined. Can true freshman Samajie Grant help break the passing game out of its funk?
Through three games of a fairly cupcake non-conference schedule, Arizona has averaged just 108.7 yards per game through the air. B.J. Denker has thrown every pass this season, but only completed 56.4 percent of them for 326 yards and has only two touchdowns. The Wildcats still rank No. 19 in scoring offense thanks the No. 6 rushing attack in college football but the passing game will have to do more as the Cats start hitting the teeth of their schedule.
Grant wasn’t expecting to see the field a whole lot in his first season, but he’s quickly picked up the offense and had a bit of a breakout performance against the UTSA Roadrunners last weekend. He found a good rhythm with Denker and caught five passes for 48 yards including the first touchdown of his collegiate career. His totals are tops for catches and yards in a game for any receiver so far on this Wildcats roster and Rich Rodriguez sees more on the horizon for his freshman wideout.
“He’s a competitive guy and he’s learned what we’re doing at really three different receiver positions, which is hard to do as a freshman. He’s got quick feet. He’s got good speed, good hands. We’re putting a lot on his plate, having him move around different positions.”
And so far, he’s shown he can handle it. Grant worked his way into the starting lineup in the last two games after entering in the second quarter of the season opening blowout of Northern Arizona. If he can continue to build rapport with Denker and be a versatile cog in Rodriguez’s offense, Grant could be headed for a huge season in Tucson.
Of course, the offense will continue to ride the legs of the running game and Ka’Deem Carey, who led the nation in rushing last season. But at some point, defenses will flood the box with defenders and slow down the Wildcat rushing attack and Arizona will have to go to the air. Is Samajie Grant the man to jumpstart this passing offense?