Fights could hurt entire Nevada defense

Wednesday, I linked to a story about Nevada players Duke Williams and Marlon Johnson engaging in a couple of fights, including one that sent Johnson to the emergency room.

According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Williams and Johnson got into a fight on April 16 or 17 after Johnson gave Williams a ride home from a party. Later that day, Williams returned to Johnson’s home with a group of friends and allegedly attacked him. They hit him with rocks, knocked him unconscious and knocked out at least one tooth. Johnson had to be rushed to the emergency room.

The Nevada athletic department is currently investigating the incident.

Both players are safeties on the Wolf Pack football team, but Williams, a sophomore, was expected to be a starter for new defensive coordinator Andy Buh. Johnson is listed as second string.

In an article in today’s Reno Gazette-Journal, the paper calls for Williams to be dismissed if he’s found to have taken a group of friends to Johnson’s house to cause harm.

So far, no police report has been filed. However, Keith Hackett, a Nevada associate athletic director, told the paper that Williams was more or less an onlooker. That Williams and Johnson were arguing and that a third party threw the rock that injured Johnson. Johnson didn’t know who the third guy was.

The outcome of this incident will be huge for Nevada. The defense was finally starting to catch up with the offense and Buh was starting to build the cohesion he sought when he first arrived on campus in January.

The secondary has taken the most criticism in past years. The past two seasons, the pass defense has ranked 119th in the country allowing 297.77 yards per game in 2009 and 311.62 in 2008.

But during the spring game, the Nevada defense showed marked improvement. It kept the first-string offense out of the end zone and while Buh didn’t want to heap too much praise so early, he was pleased with the progress.

However, the one thing Buh did want to see this offseason was more cohesion. He said he felt there were still times when the defense was playing like a set of individuals rather than an 11-man unit.

This latest schism won’t help the secondary’s maturity.

Williams already has had trouble with the law during his time with the Wolf Pack. He was arrested for minor in possession of alcohol last November and was suspended for the Hawaii Bowl after he was spotted with linebacker Andre Davis, who was arrested for felony shoplifting in Honolulu.