The Arizona Wildcats are 0-2 for the first time since 1981 after getting blown out by the Houston Cougars on Saturday by a score of 45-18.
The Wildcats were outclassed in every facet of the game, even if the yardage totals — both teams eclipsed the 500-yard mark — were relatively even.
Khalil Tate accumulated career-highs in completions (24), pass attempts (45) and passing yards (351), but most of those numbers were accumulated with the game already out of reach.
Arizona trailed 31-0 at halftime and later 38-0. Tate was limited to just eight rushing yards after suffering an ankle injury early on.
Some bright spots for Arizona included true freshman running back Darrius Smith, who rushed for 51 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries in his hometown. Shawn Poindexter hauled in seven passes for 134 yards and Shun Brown caught a career-high nine passes for 73 yards.
Dylan Klumph punted six times for 254 yards (42.3 average). More takeaways from the game can be found here.
Here is what Coach Kevin Sumlin had to say afterward. (Be sure to check out Khalil Tate’s postgame interview here.)
Sumlin’s overall thoughts on the game...
“It’s really kind of the same story as last week. We didn’t start fast, got behind and had to change the game plan a little bit because of a couple things. We gotta start faster and for the number of plays that we were running, it’s not equating to the point-production that we need. I think we ran over 100 plays today and got 18 points. It’s very frustrating and so we have to examine that piece and we had eight penalties today, which we didn’t do that last week. Last week, we had four penalties and no turnovers. We had eight penalties and two turnovers today. A combination of all those things, that adds to your slow start and those are things we have to fix.”
On the game plan for Khalil Tate and how it changed after the ankle injury...
“I think you could see early in the game the game plan was a little bit different for him for him to run inside and perimeter, but the conversation with him on the sideline is that he wasn’t comfortable with that. We talked with him every series that he wanted to play. I thought he did some good things in the second half.
“Sometimes when you have (an ankle injury), the initial pain is one thing but if anyone’s ever twisted an ankle, you know that once you stop for a while, that’s when it gets worse. He kept it loose, he wanted to play, and those were the conversations we had between series.”
Sumlin said it took Arizona too long to adjust...
“We got to the third quarter and obviously we were able to sit down and do some other things and move the football. But a lot of things you practiced that week you can draw a line through them. But at the same token, we also ran some plays in the second half that we didn’t practice very much this week and we just added them to the game plan, with where Khalil was and I thought our guys did a nice job adjusting on the sideline in the second half.”
Sumlin said a combination of Houston’s tempo and deep passing attack made it difficult for the Wildcats’ defense...
“They hit a couple of them, but we had a couple pass interference calls and we’re short one corner right now. We’ll get Jace (Whittaker) back this week and that’ll help us as well.”
On how to turn things around...
“You look where we’re at right now, we’ve got four new linemen and we’ll get Layth (Friekh) back this week. Two of our defenders that have played a lot of football for us on the back end (Whittaker and Scottie Young Jr.), we haven’t had.
“We’re not the team that we want to be. We’re also not the same team personnel and that’s a work in progress. That changes this week with three players that have played a lot of football here that can make us better.
“As you say that, we’ve got to find a way to start faster and be consistent. There were some moments where it was really good football and trust me, we had that conversation at halftime about what football was going to look like from us in the second half because it didn’t look very good in the first and second quarter. If there was a positive, it’s that they responded to the challenge at halftime.”
On Poindexter’s seven-catch, 134-yard game and a few other standouts...
“Shawn has proven the last couple weeks that he’s been consistent and he’s been effective. I thought Tony (Fields) again was consistent and effective. Darrius (Smith), his nickname’s Bam, he’s back at home and what you see there is you’ve added a third back. He’s a young guy that’s got a bright future that can get into the rotation and do some things. (Colin) Schooler continues to play his heart out and he’s all over the place.”
On why Arizona punted while down 20 with five minutes left in regulation...
“We just got a safety and we got the ball back and it was 4th and almost 10. We hadn’t been very successful on third-and-long yardage plays, holding up in protection. So we wanted to try to get the ball and pin them back down there and see if we can make something happen.”