Defensive coordinator Tim Kish took over as head coach for the final six games and steered UA to a 3-3 record, but maybe his best move was inserting freshman safety/cornerback/outside linebacker Tra'Mayne Bondurant into the lineup. The lightly recruited Bondurant showed terrific instincts and tackling ability in his six starts and was named honorable mention All Pac-12.
Bondurant attributed much of his success to sticking to details.
"When I started getting my time, I just talked to the older guys and learned how to actually prepare and watch film and become a better student of the game," Bondurant said. "It helped because I got more prepared as the season went on."
Bondurant has already noticed a big difference in the new coaching staff.
"We just met the new coaches," Bondurant said. "We know they're going to yell at us, but it's all out of love. I talked to coach Casteel personally and he's a good person. Like he said if we (the players) were the coaches, we'd be yelling at them. This group of coaches yells a lot more at us as opposed to last year where it was just Stoops. It's way different."
While still learning the defensive basics, Bondurant is intrigued by the 3-3-5 defense being implemented by new defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel.
"I like it," Bondurant said. "It's more professional and it allows us to play at full speed. The position I'm at now is the spur. It's a position that requires you to make plays and I'm definitely up for that. Coach told me if you want to play this position you've got to be ready to make plays and that's what I want to do for this team, so we hopefully will have a better record next year."
While the UA defense figures to struggle in the first year of a new system, don't be surprised if Bondurant becomes a star.