The Wildcats improve to 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the Pac-12, putting them one win shy of bowl eligibility as they head into their bye week.
Khalil Tate had an outstanding game, completing 17 of 22 passes for a career-high 350 yards and five touchdowns.
He was aided by J.J. Taylor, who carried the ball a whopping 40 times for 192 yards.
Here is what Coach Kevin Sumlin had to say about the victory.
On if he was afraid of having a letdown after the big win over Oregon...
“No, it’s football. Outside in, there is one perspective and inside out there is another perspective. I think this team understands it’s kind of a cliché deal, but these guys are better at four quarters and one game at a time. They’ve played hard all year. It’s the execution for four quarters in all three phases. We weren’t perfect and that’s what we have been talking about for the last two weeks. Things are going to happen, but when it says zero, zero, zero at the end of the game, if we play four quarters and execute then we’ll check the scoreboard.”
On what has been different (in a good way) about the defense the past two weeks...
“We moved some people around and have some guys that have come in and filled in/ We’ve lost two defensive ends, we’ve lost a couple guys in the back end. And our linebackers, I think Anthony Pandy has really given us a chance to get Tony (Fields) and Colin Schooler off the field and rotate them so they’re not playing 75 snaps.
“The move of PJ Johnson to end has really helped to get our best players on the field. And then we’ve had some guys come on and make some plays.
“I think there is a growing confidence in those guys around each other just because they have played a lot of football, they’ve been all over the place, and we’ve had rotating lineups in the first five or six weeks. And guys that were injured, out, whatever, I think what you’re seeing is the same roughly 14 or 15 guys playing on defense right now who communicate.”
On how special it was to see Taylor look as good on his 40th carry as he did on his first...
“The plan is not to hand it to him 40 times. ... We took him off kickoff returns. Stanley (Berryhill) did a nice job, but we’ve got to find ways and Gary Brightwell getting back and (Anthony) Mariscal did a nice job when he was in there, but J.J. is a machine. He wants to play and he plays hard. His big games ... he has ripped off some explosive plays with 40, 50, 60-yard runs. Tonight his longest was what, 21? So he worked or every yard he got.
“I think our offensive line did a nice job and schematically our offensive staff did a nice job of attacking the edges. I think Khalil carrying out his fakes and doing other things has really helped because you can see when he took off and ran tonight, that was the first time that anybody has seen him hit that.
“The bye week comes at a really really good time for us because for 10 weeks straight these guys haven’t done everything right, but they play really hard. As a coach that is what you ask for and this break comes at a great time for us.”
On how much the run game set up some of Tate’s long passes...
“Really since Oregon State, we’ve been able to do some things in the run game that’s taking some pressure off Khalil. They had a really nice scheme against (Shawn) Poindexter. ... Basically they said, ‘you’re not going to throw Poindexter the ball tonight’, which was kind of frustrating for him. ... But when you do, that creates some other run-fit situations and that’s as good him catching 10 balls. I think that sets up things and we had some play-action opportunities because of that. But it’s no secret, if you can run the ball effectively then you feel good on third down.”
On if the team’s confidence has positively impacted its play recently...
“The big sign downstairs says it’s about us, it’s not about the other team. Regardless of who we’re playing, we can control what we can control, and that’s our effort and our communication and our energy. ... We weren’t perfect tonight but the execution piece has been a big difference in the past two weeks.”
On what makes Tate so good in scrambling situations...
“He keeps his eyes down field and he’s got an unbelievable arm to throw on the run. There’s a lot of people that can do that, but can’t throw like that. There’s the good with the bad. He took off tonight and ran, but there are two other times he could have done that and probably should have just put the ball down and taken off, but he threw a couple touchdowns doing that, too.
“So I think as his health gets better, he understands things a lot more than he did at the beginning of the year. As his health gets better I think you see some confidence in him too, because that’s as fast as I have seen him since spring football.”
On Arizona committing a season-high 12 and 129 penalty yards...
On how Arizona will go about fixing it..
“We address it during practice. And (long pause) I gotta be careful of what I say, but we address it in practice. That’s about all I can say about that.”