Denham’s debut put on hold

Knee sprain holding Placer grad back
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
-A +A
DAVIS — It’s been 966 days since Greg Denham started a football game. So you can imagine the yearning the UC Davis sophomore will feel next Saturday when the Aggies march onto the field at San Jose State and Denham is left on the sideline nursing a knee sprain. Denham’s highly anticipated debut as UC Davis’ starting quarterback will likely have to wait until at least September. The Placer High graduate is still hampered by knee injury that occurred four days into fall camp. “It’s tough. I worked hard for it and I always envisioned myself out there,” Denham said Friday following the team’s Blue-Gold scrimmage at Aggie Stadium. “But I want to make the wise choice and not try to rush back. We’ve got 11 more games, so I’m just trying to look at the big picture.” UC Davis coach Bob Biggs named Denham the starter last spring after the Placer High graduate turned in an outstanding spring camp. Friday night in Davis, Denham paced the sideline, tossing a football to himself and wishing he could be in pads for the blue-gold scrimmage. Deham said he feels his knee is about 80 percent recovered. The injury occurred when a teammate was pushed into his planted leg as he was making a throw during practice. An MRI on the left knee showed know permanent damage, but coach Bob Biggs wants to make sure the strong-armed QB is at full strength when he returns. “He made great progress for about two weeks and now he’s hit a plateau and that’s what happens with this type of injury,” Biggs said. “The swelling’s gone down and he’s able to put weight on it, but the stability’s not quite there and the confidence isn’t there. “He’s just got to get his confidence back. Once I feel like he’s not jeopardizing his health and he can move around and do the things he does, he’ll be right back in there.” Daniel Alfaro will play in Denham’s absence. The junior looked sharp in the Aggies scrimmage Friday, completing 13 of 20 passes on the night. UC Davis will need a strong effort from Alfaro and the entire squad to take down the Spartans next Saturday. “I wanted to get in there, I wanted to beat San Jose State, but I believe Danny or whoever’s in there can lead us,” Denham said. Denham threw for 15 touchdowns and 1,725 yards as a senior at Placer in 2005. After drawing interest from schools across the West coast, Denham committed to UC Davis prior to his senior year. He red-shirted the 2006 season and took just a handful of snaps as the third-string quarterback behind seniors Matt Engle and Tim Plough last season. Denham won a wide open battle for the starting QB job last spring and was drawing high praise from the coaching staff for his command of the Aggies complex offense before his injury. “It’s frustrating for him,” Biggs said. “He’s waited for his opportunity and now his opportunity’s come and it’s frustrating to have a setback like that.” Denham’s debut may be pushed back to Sept. 6, when UC Davis visits Central Arkansas. The Aggies’ home opener is Sept. 13 against Portland State. Biggs has not wavered in his belief that the 6-foot-2, 199-pound sophomore could be the next in a long line of outstanding Aggie quarterbacks. “Greg is supremely accurate,” Biggs said. “He’s got great timing, he knows when to get rid of the ball. He’s going to be a great quarterback for us, there’s no doubt in my mind.”