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What Kevin Sumlin said after Arizona’s loss to ASU

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It was a heartbreaker

trevon-mason-kane-bradford-arizona-football-roster-2019-update-defensive-line-depth-chart-sumlin Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats lost a heartbreaker to the Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday, blowing a 19-point, fourth-quarter lead in an eventual 41-40 loss.

Josh Pollack missed a 45-yard field goal in the final moments that would have won the game, but two late turnovers by Khalil Tate and J.J. Taylor were the real turning points, said UA coach Kevin Sumlin.

Our recap of the Territorial Cup can found here, other takeaways can be found here, and here is the rest of what Sumlin had to say afterwards:

On if Arizona took the foot off the gas a little too early in the fourth quarter:

“I wouldn’t say that. I think with the margin we had and the time that was on the clock, the biggest issue was the two turnovers on (our) side of the 50. Even with that, and the field position, and the time that we used to go the length of the field, those two turnovers at the end of our side of the field cost us more than anything else from a strategy standpoint. You’re not strategizing to turn it over twice on your side of the field.

“There’s a lot of things in this football game that dictated the outcome. You go to the first half and really go up and down the field and kick field goals instead of getting touchdowns.”

On what adjustment ASU made to lessen Khalil Tate’s impact in the second half:

“I don’t know that it was a big adjustment. I think we were more of in an RPO role in the first half, and we went to some quick-hitting stuff and dropbacks where he scrambled a little more in the second half than maybe he did in the first half. If anything else, the fourth quarter, we took some deep shots because they were blitzing and gambling at the line of scrimmage with eight, nine, 10 guys and we took our shots and we didn’t hit them. Those deep throws percentage-wise are going to be lower than the balls he completed off bootlegs and things like that in the first half.”

On Tate’s status with the program moving forward (he could transfer or go pro):

“Those are conversations I have with the players after the season. That’s the way we’ve done it all the time. We’ll get all the information that he wants from the NFL, from evaluators and stuff like that, and sit down and talk to him about what his plans are, and what those evaluations look like now that the season’s over.”

On what he tells the team after a loss like that:

“First, I thank the seniors. I haven’t been here a year yet here … so those guys, I’m very, very appreciative of their work. … The first message was to them and I wish the message would have been different this afternoon, but it’s not. For the young guys, this should be a feeling in the locker room that you don’t forget. That feeling in the locker room is something in the offseason that you don’t necessarily feel like doing that extra rep or that extra run. … There’s nothing wrong with that.”

On if he thinks he got the most out of the roster:

“As a coach, you never ever feel like you get everything out of everybody. I think the circumstances of this year were different. We wanted to do better, we got a lot of moving parts this year, offensively, defensively … Our two real constants this year were our two linebackers (Colin Schooler and Tony Fields), our walk-on center (Josh McCauley) and J.J. Taylor … We knew what we had at wide receiver and those guys played well this year. But those are seniors. As a coach, you always go back and are looking to do better every time no matter what it is.”

On the performance of sophomore Troy Young, who started for the injured Lorenzo Burns at cornerback:

“They went at him a couple times and he held up. You can see his confidence is a lot different than it was at the beginning of the year. The situations he was in with two really, really good wideouts I thought he did a nice job. We had a miscommunication on the deep ball early when we should have gotten some help on the post, so that was not necessarily all on him. For a young guy, I thought he played pretty well.”

On thinking in the moment about how settling for field goals would come back to bite them:

“I don’t know that you do that. In the moment you’re looking at what can you do to fix what’s going on, what are we doing here that we’re stalling out in the red zone. Is it scheme, is it personnel, what is it? … But you can’t dwell on that at that point. You have to move on and say how do we fix this and get touchdowns instead of field goals?”

On why he chose to go for two twice early in the game:

“We got off number early based on statistical data that we use. We tried to get back to even and it’s just based on that statistical data.”