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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Kish reviews video of brawl, agrees with Scott’s suspensions

Colin Prenger
Colin Prenger / Daily Wildcat The UA Wildcats took on the UCLA Bruins Thursday, Oct. 20. In his first game, Tim Kish won against the Bruins 48-12.

Arizona’s once-anemic defense made huge strides last Thursday by holding UCLA to 12 points. But the Wildcats will have to build on that momentum Saturday without four key defensive backs against one of the conference’s emerging quarterbacks in Washington’s Keith Price.

As a result of Thursday’s bench-clearing brawl between the Wildcats and Bruins, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott handed out one-game suspensions to starting cornerback Shaquille Richardson and starting nickelback Jourdon Grandon, while backup safety Mark Watley and backup cornerback Lyle Brown received half-game suspensions. Six UCLA players were suspended for at least a half.

UA interim head coach Tim Kish was asked by the Pac-12 to review the tape, and he agreed with Scott’s decision to suspend the 10 players at hand.

“I was disappointed for both us and UCLA, to be honest with you. As I mentioned to the team after the game and at halftime, discipline is the cornerstone of where we’re at right now, and that was a lack of discipline,” Kish said. “In my opinion, it was a little bit of a selfish reaction.

“We have to understand the bigger purposes of what’s best for the team,” Kish added. “It’s unfortunate. It’s in my opinion the right thing to do from the commissioner’s standpoint, and it’s something we’re going to have to deal with here.”

Arizona quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo, who said fights like that were the norm during his junior college days, echoed Kish’s sentiment and said the incident was “bad for us, bad for UCLA; it’s bad for college football.”

Richardson, a former Bruins commit who got into it with UCLA’s Taylor Embree to kickstart the brawl, will be the biggest loss for the Wildcats. The starting cornerback has been on a roller coaster all season, but he’s Arizona’s biggest playmaker and is tied for the Pac-12 lead in interceptions with three.

Brown, who had three tackles and a forced fumble against UCLA, is Richardson’s backup, but with the senior out for the first half of Saturday’s game, Arizona will most likely turn to true freshman cornerback Cortez Johnson as its starter.

Johnson has been inactive for the last few games due to an undisclosed injury and has limited experience outside of special teams, but Kish said he’ll get a long look during practice this week.

“We’re looking at a couple options. Cortez Johnson’s back,” Kish said. “He doesn’t have a lot of playing experience but he’s definitely somebody we’ll be looking at.”

Johnson, known as CoMoney15 on Twitter, tweeted on Monday “ujohnson3 No I’m startn saturday.”

If Kish likes what he sees in practice and Johnson’s tweet is accurate, expect to see the freshman on the field for at least the first half of Saturday’s game. Sophomore corner Derrick Rainey is listed as the co-starter with Johnson.

The Wildcats will also need another big game from freshman Tra’Mayne Bondurant, who led the team with eight tackles against UCLA. With Grandon out for the game and Watley out for the first half, Bondurant will have another chance to shine at nickel.

If he’s unsuccessful against a Husky offense that ranks third in the Pac-12 in points per game, with 34.7, the Wildcats will have to run more base defense, meaning linebacker Hank Hobson will most likely be the beneficiary of more snaps.

Kish also said there’s a possibility that he moves a few offensive players to the defensive side, but they would only be used in “emergency situations.” He wouldn’t disclose which players would make the move.

Regardless of who makes the switch, the suspensions are finalized and the Wildcats have to work with who’s available as they aim to run the table and do the unthinkable by making a fourth consecutive bowl game.

“It could have been prevented, maybe, maybe not, but it is what it is and we’ve got to move forward,” Kish said.

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