Arizona senior quarterback Matt Scott did suffer a concussion in the third quarter at UCLA and will be evaluated through the week, athletic director Greg Byrne said Monday afternoon.
Byrne spoke at the beginning of coach Rich Rodriguez’s weekly news conference, making a statement about Scott’s health and taking questions. Arizona doesn’t typically talk about injuries beyond providing a weekly status report on Thursday afternoons.
Byrne said Scott granted permission to share some details.
“Our medical staff is taking great care of him,” Byrne said.
“Matt will be observed and evaluated daily. The final decision on whether he is going to play will be made by our medical staff.”
Arizona will update Scott’s status on Thursday, but a final decision on whether he can play in the Homecoming game against Colorado (11:30 a.m., FX) is sure to come after that.
Byrne said he wanted to address Scott’s status because “it is a hot topic on a national scale.” He added: “We knew there was a lot of attention directed on this one and we thought it was important to come out and talk about it.”
Unlike last week, Arizona took a more proactive approach in dealing with speculation about Scott’s health. Scott suffering multiple hits to the head late in the USC game on Oct. 27, but was allowed to stay in for a few plays before being pulled from the game.
The school has not officially said if the quarterback did or did not have a concussion, but Scott did go through a team walk-through the day after the game and practiced through the week. Byrne said Scott was monitored by the athletic department’s medical staff throughout the week.
“Our medical staff conducted daily evaluations and continuously monitored Matt. Last Friday, we did our final evaluation, which included an exertional imPACT test. Through that evaluation, Matt was medically and clinically cleared to play.”
Scott suffered the concussion in the third quarter against UCLA, when he was tackled from behind after releasing a pass. As he fell forward, his head hit the knee of defensive end Datone Jones. Scott did not return to the game.
The backup is junior college transfer B.J. Denker. He came into the game when Arizona was trailing UCLA 45-10, and he promptly fumbled on his third play.
The left-handed Denker completed 2 of 5 passes for 12 yards, also rushing eight times for 7 yards, which included taking three sacks.
“It was kind of a tough situation to go into when we’re that far behind,” Rodriguez said. “But I think he made a couple of good decisions, a couple of good throws. He’s got a good grasp of what we’re doing offensively.”
But there is a huge drop-off from Scott, who has been playing at an all-league level, and a little-used junior college transfer who arrived this summer.
Next in line at quarterback would be wide receiver Richard Morrison. The former high school quarterback spent a lot of time at the position in the spring, but was phased out early in fall camp after Denker did enough to grab the backup spot.
Morrison played briefly at quarterback against UCLA, fumbling a handoff exchange.
“This week, he’ll be taking more reps at quarterback,” Rodriguez said.
“Richard had a pretty good command of it in the spring and he throws the ball pretty well. We’ll see what he does this week in practice.”
In case of extreme emergency, true freshman Javelle Allen is next, but coaches want to preserve his redshirt season.
Hypothetically, Scott wouldn’t have to practice much for him to play Saturday, assuming he is cleared.
“Our usual policy is you have to take at least some reps on Wednesday and Thursday to be prepared on Saturday, even if you’re a veteran guy,” Rodriguez said. “If Matt is cleared to go Saturday, I think he can play well without a whole lot of reps.”