SHREVEPORT, La. — The last time Nick Isham attempted a pass in a college game was more than two years ago about 70 miles east of Independence Stadium in Ruston, La.
Isham was a freshman at Louisiana Tech and had a pass fall incomplete in a 44-0 blowout win over New Mexico State. Since that incompletion, Isham transferred to Arizona, sat out last season and then served as the Wildcats’ holder this season.
There’s a chance the signal-caller could finally get some quarterback action again on Tuesday in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl.
With Javelle Allen dismissed from the team for violating team rules, Isham, a Calabasas, Calif., native, is likely to serve as B.J. Denker’s backup against Boston College on Tuesday. If it’s not Isham, it will be junior Jesse Scroggins.
“Nick would probably be the first one in, but right now they’re kind of neck-and-neck,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said Sunday.
Isham threw for 1,457 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions for Louisiana Tech as a true freshman before deciding to transfer to Arizona.
He never played in Shreveport while he was at Louisiana Tech, but has been to the city before this trip.
It certainly wouldn’t be a bad place to restart his career if Denker suffers an injury or the game gets out of hand in the second half.
“If my name is called, I’ll be ready,” Isham said. “Obviously everyone wants to get in and play under the lights and on the big-time stage, like we have here. I’m looking forward to it if my name is called. But you also don’t want anything to happen to B.J. because he’s been so good for us this season.”
Isham was in Louisiana for just one semester before deciding to leave for the desert. He didn’t get to experience the lifestyle much, other than riding rope swings over creeks in Ruston with his teammates.
He’s more comfortable in Tucson and said even though he didn’t see any game action this year, he still improved as a quarterback.
“I tried to improve with every snap I took in practice,” Isham said. “You just try to get as many reps as you can. You just have to be prepared anytime you get the chance and then make sure you make the best of the opportunity.”
Rodriguez said if Isham is called on to play, he wouldn’t be concerned.
“Nick’s a smart guy; he’s got some experience and started some games at Louisiana Tech,” Rodriguez said. “I think he understands our system pretty well. I think he’s excited for the opportunity if he gets in there.”
Small UA contingent
UA athletic director Greg Byrne didn’t know the exact number of AdvoCare Bowl tickets the UA has sold of its allotment of 10,000, but he isn’t expecting a large number of UA fans to make the trip.
The athletic director said there’s still a good amount of inventory left.
“It will be less than it was last year in New Mexico,” Byrne said.
With the game so far away from Tucson, it’s not a surprise that ticket sales aren’t high for UA fans. Byrne said he would be “very surprised if the (television) ratings aren’t very strong.”
He also said the AdvoCare Bowl organizers expect a decent local crowd.
“From talking to the folks, it’s a matchup that they feel the community will get behind with two big-named programs and obviously the two running backs and two exciting brands of tickets,” Byrne said.
Band staying home
The Arizona marching band won’t be making the trip to Shreveport for Tuesday’s AdvoCare Bowl, but the UA will have a band in its corner.
Northwestern State University, located in Natchitoches, La., will represent the Wildcats at the bowl. The band will wear UA hats and sweatshirts and has spent the past couple of weeks learning all of the UA’s material.
Byrne said the plan was to bring Arizona’s band along for the game, but logistics made it difficult.
“We offered to fly our band on a charter 737, but the logistics of getting them back from Christmas break and then back home after Christmas break, was going to be too much of an issue.” Byrne said. “So, Northwestern State will be in our colors and represent us.
“Our hope is every bowl game we have our band. We are going to make sure in the future we have a plan in place if we go a long ways away for a bowl game.”
The Spirit of Northwestern State Marching Band has performed at halftime of New Orleans Saints games before and has accompanied the Northwestern State football team on trips to Baylor, LSU and TCU.
The UA will send 14 cheerleaders and Wilbur the Wildcat to Shreveport.
Bondurant considering NFL
UA junior safety Tra’Mayne Bondurant submitted paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board a couple of weeks ago to get feedback of where — or if — he would be picked if he entered May’s NFL draft.
It would be a long shot that the safety, who had 66 tackles, seven tackles-for-a-loss and four interceptions in 11 games in the regular season, would be drafted, but Bondurant said he’s considering it because of his family situation.
“There’s a lot of stuff going on as far as my family issues,” Bondurant said. “So it’s always a thing I think about. The draft could easily change my life. It’s something I was thinking about and still am, so I submitted my paperwork just to see where I’m at.”
Bondurant said he’ll make his decision after the bowl game, but will probably be back in cardinal and navy next season.
“I’m learning toward coming back just because I do want to be a senior and I want to get my degree,” Bondurant said. “That’s something that can also help my family.”