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What Kevin Sumlin said after Arizona’s loss to USC

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arizona-wildcats-college-football-spring-practice-coronavirus-sumlin-ncaa-cancel-suspend-2020 Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Arizona Wildcats were drubbed by the USC Trojans 41-14 on Saturday in Los Angeles. Arizona fell to 4-3 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12 heading into next weekend’s road game at Stanford.

Our full recap can be found here, additional takeaways can be read here, and here is what head coach Kevin Sumlin had to say afterwards.

On why Grant Gunnell entered in the third quarter: “Basically we needed a spark, right? And we got Grant in there and then as the game got out of hand, we just left him in there to get experience and and move the football. ... That’s valuable experience for him I thought because the game was not out of hand when he got in. But as it got that way, I think he showed some some things that it’s great experience for him.”

On the state of the team: “I talked to the whole team after the game just about where we are, what the expectations are and that’s not going to change. Really right now we can’t go backwards. And that was basically my message to the team. Hey, look how we’re going to approach this week. Are you gonna let this define you or are we going to keep pushing forward? And that’s a choice you have. That’s a choice that this whole team has. And that’s when coaches, we gotta lead. Our leaders gotta lead too during the week, and we gotta keep moving on because we still got a lot of things out there in front of us.”

On the QB controversy: “It’s not a quarterback controversy, I mean, it’s just where we are right now. We want to get Grant in there, that was the plan from last week. I told you guys that he wasn’t going to redshirt so that was obvious that he was going to play some more the rest of the year. He just got to play a lot tonight.”

On if Tate is still the starter: “Yeah. Like I said, there’s no quarterback controversy right now. We’re moving on from this and the depth chart is still the same.”

On the pass protection struggles: “There were blitzes that obviously we didn’t pick up, but then again even during that time they whipped us up front. We couldn’t run it and then when they didn’t blitz, we still weren’t (blocking). Whether it was Khalil who was running for his life early in the game and then Grant got hit a bunch of times and in just about every series. Some because he’s not as mobile, but we got whipped up front.”

More on the blocking struggles: “It’s just like running ball too, we gotta be better up front. We got to the perimeter a couple times early in the game. We weren’t consistent in the run game, which put more pressure on us to be able to throw the ball. And they pressured us with edge blitzes, safety blitzes, brought a free safety blitz a couple times. A couple times it was just a flat bust in protection, where we just turned a guy loose off the edge. The line squeezes and the guy came off the edge untouched. So later on the game Grant hit the running backs a couple times hot because they didn’t cover him, and we made yards. You gotta get the ball out of your hands sometimes if they bring more than you have to protect, but you also got to block them when you’re supposed to block them. So it was a combination of a lot of those things. So there are answers that we got to, but it was too late. ... So we gotta be better than that.”

On the slow start and turnovers: “We muffed a punt, gave them a short field. You get 10 points off of the bat, it gets the crowd into it on the road. It’s frustrating. (Michael) Wiley’s trying to get another yard and playing hard and he lets one go. So you got two turnovers early in the game that really (hurt us). And our defense for where they were with the short fields for the first half and really with those turnovers, I thought they were pretty effective. They held them to a field goal once, stopped them on short yardage, and gave us a chance. But we gave them short fields early in the game, and then really the first half with turnovers and we couldn’t move the ball offensively effectively. We’d get to a certain point and stall out or they get the negative yardage plays with sacks or force us out of the pocket or whatever. So it was combination of those things that gave them short fields and gave us long fields. We were not able to flip the field early in the game and then we turn the ball over, right? So yeah, it’s very difficult.”