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What Kevin Sumlin said at Arizona’s pre-UCLA press conference

The Wildcats’ head coach is unsure of Khalil Tate’s status

<span data-author="5158751">arizona-wildcats-college-football-2019-recruiting-kevin-sumlin </span> Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats are Rose Bowl bound this weekend when they will travel to Pasadena to take on the UCLA Bruins.

Arizona (3-4, 2-2 Pac-12) is coming off a brutal 42-10 loss at the hands of the Utah Utes and has a major question mark at quarterback after Khalil Tate was knocked out after two series after re-aggravating his ankle injury.

Meanwhile, UCLA (1-5, 1-2) is trending up, routing Cal 37-7 last Saturday for its first win of the season. The Bruins also played Washington tough the week before, falling 31-24 to the 10th-ranked Huskies.

Here is what UA head coach Kevin Sumlin had to say leading up to Saturday’s game against UCLA. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. PT on ESPN2.

On playing Rhett Rodriguez more than Jamarye Joiner...

“We went into the game saying that he was going to play. I said that last week, trying to get him ready to go. Rhett had a good week of practice also. I think environment-wise and where that game was, it was a little bit different situation for a true freshman on the road at night, knowing that Khalil (Tate) probably wasn’t coming back, knowing that probably we were probably going to have to play (Jamarye) and Rhett.

“I thought Rhett came in in a two-minute drill situation, which he had been used to, and moved us down the field and it gave him the right to start the second half. And then when he came back in the second half, he continued to move the ball. We thought he did a nice job in a very, very difficult situation, being down, being on the road. He looked very, very comfortable and poised throughout that time. I felt Rhett was doing as good a job as anyone could do at that point, and he continued to play.”

On Tate’s status for UCLA...

“I don’t know yet.”

On when a decision will be made...

“I’d like to do it early. The earlier the better. But we gotta have a plan for both sides of that. Obviously he’s better when he practices. Going through the week he felt pretty good, but you can’t keep going with this thing where (his ankle is) getting tweaked and two series he’s out of the game. Medically and as I said Saturday, it looked to me like he could hardly hand the ball off. That’s why I got him out. It’s a player safety issue. We’re never going to put anyone in harm’s way. We’ll discuss that with our medical team and everything else, but obviously for everybody involved, the earlier we can make a decision the better.”

On if UCLA being close to Tate’s hometown changes the decision if he will play or not...

“No.”

On STUD Lee Anderson III’s issues moving the edge against Utah...

“It can be technique issues. The real interesting part is your analysis is pretty much pretty accurate. And the two weeks previous, he couldn’t be blocked. So … sometimes personnel has something to do with that. We have to do a better job if that’s not working or if we’re not putting him in a position where three weeks ago he was successful in those same situations. That could be a number reasons but at a certain point there are going to be one-on-one battles that you have to win. Whether it was on the perimeter, playing man-to-man on our receivers, whether it’s up front.”

On if left tackle Layth Friekh’s ankle injury is similar to Tate’s in that he is good enough to practice but keeps tweaking it in the game and has to come out...

“I’m not sure about that. Obviously everyone’s seen him having trouble pushing off and whipping around. Our medical people do all the evaluations and then it gets down to some of these guys love to play football. Layth has already sat out three games at the beginning or the year, so the clock is ticking on him. As a coach, you understand that a guy wants to play. But you also understand that he can be a liability if he’s playing like that to himself and the team … and that’s the part you struggle with as a coach because that’s the human element of a gut that really wants to do something, but physically he can’t and time’s running out.”

On Arizona’s offense struggling on third downs recently...

“We have a goal of 40 percent or more. We’ve hovered around that until the last two weeks. When that happens, there are a lot of things involved in that. First of all, it’s the down and distance. Is it 3rd and 4 or is it 3rd and 9? We do a lot of different things in long yardage. You think about it being a quarterback throwing the ball, you gotta have protection, you gotta have receivers on the right page, at the right depth, running good routes. We were good at the beginning of the year and the last couple weeks, we have not reached our goal and it has shown up with us not getting first downs and putting our defense back on the field.”

On the balance between trying to win games and getting young players some experience...

“That’s been the discussion since Sunday. To be honest with you, at some positions that’s all we got. You see those young guys playing at receiver, you see the o-line is in that fashion. … Some of these positions it’s roster management, but it’s also the depth that we have right now.”

On what has changed for UCLA recently...

“I think the biggest difference that I saw is the jump in turnover margin. Early in the year they were one of the bottom teams in the league. These last couple weeks, you watch the games and what are they +4 now over the year? They’ve been really impressive. You want to talk about last week, but the week before they were in a one-score game with Washington because of their turnover ratio and how they handled it. ... So the last two weeks they have played impressive football.”

On if he can take anything away from last year’s matchup vs. UCLA when he was at Texas A&M...

“No, I don’t think so. It’s a different coach. If anything there’s some familiarity there, but there also means there’s familiarity with us, because last year Chip was going around and doing some things, and came to A&M and stayed for three days. So familiarity goes both ways in those kinds of situations. It’ll be interesting.”

On Cedric Peterson, Stanley Berryhill III and Devaughn Cooper combining for 11 catches vs. Utah...

“Cedric has been steady all year. ... And based on the scheme and what they try to do defensively, we knew that some other receivers had to win their one-on-one battles and step their game up. (Shawn) Poindexter has been established now. When you’re in these games it takes everybody. Cedric’s been playing well all year. He’s been blocking like crazy and done all the other things that have gotten people open and created home runs. But it’s like anything else, the guy who gets the credit is the guy with the statistics and he had those — a touchdown and made some big catches.

“Stanley is a young guy who continues to get better and Coop is finally getting healthy. He missed a bunch of two-a-days in fall camp with that ankle, really the summer too. So you’re in a Week 7 or so now and he’s been practicing for the last couple months. He showed some real burst Saturday night that we haven’t seen out of him all year, which is a good sign because we need him.”