Defensive tackle Parker Zellers is suspended for the first half after being ejected for targeting against the UCLA Bruins last week.
Zellers lowered the crown of his helmet on a hit to quarterback Josh Rosen, and NCAA rules state that if a player is ejected for targeting in the second half of one game, he is suspended for the first half of the next.
Head coach Rich Rodriguez wasn’t sure if he agreed with Zellers’ ejection.
“You want to get that out of the game, so we understand why they called that. The question I have is are they being consistent in every game and every call?” he said Monday.
“It looked pretty similar to what happened at the end of the [Utah] game, and that was reviewed and not called targeting. Again, those are subjective enough to where you might not get the exact same call. I think the intent of the rule getting the crown of head out, and get everybody to quit ducking their heads, I understand that part of it.”
Zellers has played in four games this season, starting three of them, tallying 10 tackles.
The senior’s suspension is especially notable since his backup, Luca Bruno, is already dealing with a concussion that kept him out of Saturday’s game vs. UCLA.
Bruno, who has started in three games this season, has 11 tackles this year.
If Bruno is unavailable, true freshman Kurtis Brown is next up on the depth chart. Brown has seven tackles (two for loss) in six games this season.
Redshirt sophomore Finton Connolly is another option. He has eight tackles (2.5 for loss) in six games this year.
Regardless, Arizona’s defensive line has struggled to control the line of scrimmage the last two weeks, surrendering 448 yards rushing, and so the possibility of being without two of its stalwarts (for one half, at least) against a surprise Cal team is obviously concerning.
“We’ll see where Luca (Bruno) is at in the next few days,” Rodriguez said. “Parker’s a really good player. That’s where that penalty, if it’s a close one, you wonder if it’s really targeting. Sitting out the first half of next game is a really severe penalty. But it is what it is.”
Follow Ryan Kelapire on Twitter at @RKelapire