The Wildcats surrendered 55 points in the first half alone, as WSU quarterback Gardner Minshew II finished 43 for 55 for 473 yards and a whopping seven touchdowns.
Arizona QB Khalil Tate appeared to benefit from the bye week, throwing for 294 yards, four touchdowns and an interception along with a season-high 56 rushing yards, but Arizona committed four turnovers — three fumbles and an interception — and were marred by penalties all night.
The Wildcats drop to 5-6, now needing a win over ASU in the Territorial Cup next weekend to reach bowl eligibility.
Here is what UA coach Kevin Sumlin had to say about Saturday’s loss.
On his team’s performance:
“I gotta go back and look at it. The penalty early that extended the first drive, I think it was 3rd-and-8, you can’t do that against a team (like this where) every possession is critical. They took advantage of it and jumped out 7-0 there and we took turns. We put the ball on the ground six times, three of them we lost. So you got a combination of things that happened early in the game that put it out of hand. A team like this, you knew you had to score points to win the game, but you can’t put the ball on the ground six times against a team that scores that kind of points. That’s how the score gets to be the way it is.”
On the cold weather potentially causing the fumbles:
“There’s no excuses for that. We haven’t been that team all year. We’re not going to make any excuses about weather. They played in it, too. That’s something that we work on and talk about a lot, and that was surprising.”
On the team playing hard, despite facing a large deficit:
“That hasn’t been an issue. Execution has been an issue. The last two weeks, we were pretty good. Tonight the execution was not there consistently in all three phases. Give Washington State credit. Gardner Minshew was extremely accurate, their offensive line did a fabulous job. We thought based on how we played recently that we could get to him. We could not, just like everybody else all year has not been able to get to him. We tried to pressure, couldn’t get to him and playing man-to-man obviously they run a lot of mesh routes and crossing routes and then we played some zone and still couldn’t get there rushing three or four, so it was a great scheme and that’s what they’ve done all year. That’s why they’re 10-1.”
On if he sensed a game like this coming:
“No, I felt really good coming into it, so it’s disappointing.”
On the Utah game affecting his team’s performance (the Wildcats were eliminated from Pac-12 South title contention due to the Utes’ victory over Colorado):
“I don’t think so.”
On what he told the team after the game:
“We got a lot to play for still. It’s a rivalry game, the Territorial Cup, a chance for postseason, there’s a lot to come back Monday to work for and a lot to play for. The season’s not over and we’ve got an opportunity next Saturday to play in a rivalry game and it shouldn’t be anything I’ve got to say to get guys to go, because for our seniors it’s a big deal with Senior Night, you’ve got the Territorial Cup and postseason play on the line next Saturday, so there’s a lot to play for.”
On Scottie Young Jr. being suspended for the first half of the ASU game because of targeting:
“We got a week to practice and he’s been out before. Obviously he’s made a big difference for our defense in the middle part of the year when he’s been playing with turnovers and touchdowns, so we got another week to get somebody ready to play in the first half.”
On determining when to pull the starters:
“It depends on where things are. As long as you have a chance to win the game you keep playing. I think it sends a message to your team that what you believe in as a coach if we’ve got a chance to score and hold them to win the game, you keep playing your guys.”
On Shawn Poindexter’s last six catches going for touchdowns:
“I didn’t know that. He’s been that kind of player all year from Week 1. He continues to be a leader, he plays hard every week and he makes plays. He’s a really good player and even better teammate.”
On the offense’s performance:
“You’ve got yards, but when you put the ball on the ground like that it doesn’t matter. We got an interception and three fumbles (lost), but what did we have, six on the ground? That limits possessions and gives them more possessions. It puts your defense in a bad situation. You can have as many yards as you want, but if you turn the ball over this is the result.”