Lightning from a monsoon that rolled across campus Saturday evening caused the Arizona Wildcats to delay an in-stadium scrimmage preseason scrimmage for about an hour. The practice ended just before 9 p.m., making for a late night but one coach Kevin Sumlin knows he’ll need to get used to.
“We’d be, what, midway through the second quarter?,” Sumlin joked after Arizona ran 115 plays on the turf with varying units, formations and player groupings. “Three weeks from right now.”
It was Arizona’s eighth practice of the preseason and at this point very little about the Wildcats is set. Sumlin believes the learning process is still ongoing, with players and coaches continuing to understand each other, but the results have been promising.
“Everything we’re asking them to do, they’re doing it,” he said. “I’m not saying they’re doing it exactly right, but they’re doing it with effort.”
It was the first time Sumlin met with the media since the opening night of camp on Aug. 3. Here are some of the things he discussed:
On quarterback Khalil Tate’s development:
“I think every day that we’re out here he understands a little more of the big picture,” Sumlin said. “At that position, the whiteboard, the video, the walk through is nothing, nothing like full speed. That phase of it is ongoing.
On having Tate on the cover of Sports Illustrated:
“It’s great exposure for the university,” Sumlin said. “Anytime you have a player that has something like that, or is a national award winner or finalist, we’ve always looked at that as a team award. You can’t be 0-12 and do that. It takes a bunch of other people, coaches, players, a lot of different things to put yourself in that position.”
On his relationship with Tate, and quarterbacks in general:
“I’ve told quarterbacks this since Case Keenum (at Houston), quarterback and the head coach get way, way too much credit when we win and we get all the blame when we lose,” Sumlin said. “Because of that you have to have that kind of (strong) relationship. You don’t usually blame the right guard when you lose.”
On the quarterbacks in general:
“Tonight was important because we can’t give all seven guys these reps for the next three weeks,” Sumlin said. “We’re going to make some decisions (Sunday) based on a lot of different things. The decision-making process for that position is extremely important.”
On the linebacker corps:
“They’ve been extremely competitive with the offense,” Sumlin said. “Competitive but not combative. They haven’t been over the top, starting fights, but they’ll light you up, let you know about it. They’re having some fun out there. That energy has been infectious.”
On Scottie Young’s status after being reinstated
“We really don’t have a relationship with him,” Sumlin said. “He’s been suspended since we’ve been here. That’s where it is with him.”