arizona-wildcats-coach-kevin-sumlin-press-conference-2018-byu "> clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

What Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin said at his pre-BYU press conference

The Wildcats host the Cougars on Sept. 1 to open the 2018 season

<span data-author="5158751">arizona-wildcats-coach-kevin-sumlin-press-conference-2018-byu </span> Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The waiting is almost over. After several weeks of preseason practice and nearly eight months since being hired to run the Arizona Wildcats, Kevin Sumlin’s debut as head coach is now only a few days away.

“Actually, it’s gone by pretty quickly since (training camp began on) August 2,” Sumlin said Monday during his first weekly press conference. “It’s game week now.”

Arizona is set to host BYU on Sept. 1. Sumlin said it will be the first time since he was a graduate assistant at Washington State, in 1990, that he’ll be playing against the Cougars. That will be a common theme in his first season with the Wildcats but he has relied on his connections in the coaching world to help him and his staff be prepared for the unfamiliar opponent.

“We all have friends in the business,” Sumlin said. “Everybody talks, there are no secrets. Coaches are the biggest copycats in the world. Video can only tell you so much. I’m sure they’ve done the same thing with us having a new staff here.”

Here’s what else Sumlin touched on during his 20-minute press conference:

On the vibe he’s gotten from the community leading up to the opener:

“I’ve had a lot of people tell me how excited they are, at different restaurants and gas stations. Wherever I’ve been people have been … nothing but great, to me, my family, the coaches. Everybody wishes us good luck, and the majority say they’re going to be there Saturday night. Fans do have an effect, they have an effect on our team from an energy standpoint.”

On BYU’s defense, which held 7 of 12 teams to 21 or fewer points in 2017:

“We’ve got a real challenge this week. BYU is a well-coached team. It will be as large a team as we’ll face this year. This is going to be a large football team.”

On facing BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes, who was an LSU assistant from 2014-17:

“We’ve got some familiarity with him from the other league.”

On BYU’s … experience, with numerous players in their mid-20s:

“We addressed it early, there will be some older guys. Heck, I remember when Tanner (Mangum) the quarterback, the first year he started. It seems like a long time ago, it was.”

On what he likes about Arizona’s defense:

“I think continuity and experience, much like the defense we’re going to play Saturday night. We had some outstanding efforts from players (last year). All those guys are back. I like where we are up front, with the kind of attitude that these guys have brought. It’s just like a chemistry.”

On how the offensive line is coming together:

“We better be coming together pretty quickly. We’ve made some strides, certainly, in the last three or four days. This whole O-line situation is being solidified.”

On how senior Layth Freikh’s 2-game suspension impacts the O-line rotation:

“You’re looking at two scenarios. The first two games, and then when he comes back, now what? All of those scenarios are being addressed, not just for the first two weeks but for the whole season. What’s easiest for us is to get that solidified now.”

On the status of Texas A&M transfers Robert Congel and Santino Marchiol:

“They’re not eligible at the moment. (Marchiol) was informed this morning that he’s no longer on the team.”

On the Pac-12 reducing halftimes to 15 minutes to shorten overall game length:

“It doesn’t seem like a big deal but it’s a significant change in terms of communication. Between coaches, primarily coaches get together first, talk about what’s going on, create a plan, and then you have to get that information to the players. You have to be extremely organized. You have about 10 minutes to get things together.”