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What Kevin Sumlin said at his pre-Southern Utah press conference

BYU v Arizona Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

His 30th year of coaching off to arguably the worst start of them all, Kevin Sumlin is in agreement that the Arizona Wildcats being 0-2 at this point isn’t how things were supposed to go.

“Nobody expected that, we don’t expect that,” Sumlin said Monday at his weekly press conference.

It’s just the second time in Sumlin’s coaching career he’s been on a team that has lost its first two games, the other being as wide receivers coach at Wyoming in 1991. But that’s where the similarities end between those Cowboys of the past and the Wildcats of the present.

“Every situation is different, every team is different,” he said. “What we can do is get better every week. That’s our approach and we start back on that every day.”

Arizona returns home Saturday to face Southern Utah in its final nonconference game before Pac-12 play begins. Here are some of the things Sumlin discussed at his press conference:

On the lack of production on offense:

“We talked a little bit after the game about eight- to 12-play drives and what usually comes out of that: points. We’ve gotta get bigger chunks of yardage. We were unsuccessful the first week with the ball going down the field … but scored more points. That speaks to scheme and what we can do. Those explosive plays are a combination of things, but something we’re working on right now. We’ve run a lot of plays offensively and don’t have a lot of points to show for it.”

On having to change the game plan after QB Khalil Tate’s leg injury:

“That happened early in the game, so the game plan changed on the fly. The mobility of Khalil is his strength. What we want to do, what we try to do, is play to our players’ strength, as we learn this team. Gameplans change in the middle of the game, which happened last Saturday.”

On conversations with Tate about his injury and if he could play:

“I think he did a pretty good job with me and Noel about where he was during that football game. Whether he could help the team or hurt the team. How you’re feeling, what you want to do. Can you do this, can you do that. That communication is something that is not easy. That second half he showed he could help the team by fighting through.”

On Tate’s status for Saturday and if the injury will impact him:

“It’s a long time until Saturday. He was in this morning, so we’ll see what happens.”

On whether he’s seen enough at this point to know what he’s got to work with:

“We’ve got a pretty good resume on everybody on this team who’s played. From adversity, on the road, at home against different teams, I think we have a good idea. We’ve learned a lot more about what we do these two weeks.”

On how the offensive line fared against Houston:

“Certainly from the first game to the second game there was some improvement in our offensive line. From a protection standpoint and playing against one of the better players in the country, in (Ed) Oliver, I thought, interiorly, our game plan was pretty good. We were pretty effective in the second half. It’s a work in progress. I think getting Layth (Friekh) back this week will help us. He’ll go to left tackle and move Donovan (Laie) to right tackle.”

On how big it will be to have LT Layth Friekh back after a two-game suspension:

“We had four of our offensive linemen play 100 snaps. That’s a lot, we just don’t have a lot of depth there. Those guys couldn’t come off the field. They didn’t always do the right thing, but they battled.”

On Donovan Laie’s performance as a true freshman:

“I think he’s extremely talented. In pass protection he’s been awesome. It’s been a real learning experience for him. He’s very athletic, he’s a big man for 18 years old. He’s only going to get better.”

On Cody Creason, who will go from right tackle to left guard this week:

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do at tackle, but he’s probably better suited to be inside there.”

On if he plans to make any changes schematically or personnel-wise to improve defense:

“Yes. It gets down to schematics now with players that we know that we have and getting our players in the right position and the depth issue is one thing, but we’ve got to continue to try manufacture negative yardage plays on defense, we’ve got to manufacture explosive plays on offense.”

On the team’s effort when trailing by multiple scores:

“When challenged, these guys … have not quit. They have continued to play. To me, we’re finding out who’s who.”

On Shawn Poindexter’s emergence as the No. 1 receiver:

“I don’t know what he did before. I just know he’s a good player. He’s going to continue to improve.”

On the play of true freshman RB Darrius Smith, a Houston native:

“I just know him as Bam. He was back home. He ran hard for a young guy. I hope he runs like that here and not just in Houston.”

On if there were discussions about going under center on the failed goal-line conversions:

“We’re the team that we are right now. Moving under center is not as easy as people say it is when you’re catching 100 snaps (from shotgun).”

On Rhett Rodriguez completing four of five passes in backup QB duty:

“He operated well and he’s a guy that is very, very capable of playing winning football.”