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What Kevin Sumlin said after Arizona’s blowout loss to Utah

trevon-mason-kane-bradford-arizona-football-roster-2019-update-defensive-line-depth-chart-sumlin Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Wildcats were officially eliminated from bowl contention Saturday night, when they were blown out by the No. 7 Utah Utes 35-7 to drop their sixth straight game.

The senior night loss for the UA puts them at 4-7 overall on the season and 2-6 in conference play, while head coach Kevin Sumlin is now just 9-14 in his first 23 games in Tucson.

Our full recap can be found here, some additional takeaways can be found here, and here is what Sumlin had to say after the loss.

On his team’s biggest problems in the loss: “First of all, that’s a good football team we were playing. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively, we were down two scores at halftime with a couple of fourth down stops that we needed to get, but we gave them some shorter fields without being able to move the ball offensively. It all works hand in hand. They are an experienced team with an experienced quarterback that can move around, and their running back is an excellent player. I do think our guys continued to play hard for the whole game but we just didn’t get it done.”

On why Grant Gunnell started over Khalil Tate on Tate’s senior night: “Just practice during the week and execution. That’s what we did, same thing we’ve talked about all year. We paid tribute to the seniors and Khalil is a senior just like the other seniors out there. Some played, some didn’t start.”

On if he saw Tony Fields II’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Utah’s first drive: “No, it was a lot of stuff going on early in the game. They had a couple unsportsmanlike penalties and late hits and pushing and shoving. I mean, the game started that way and continued for a while. So you know I really didn’t see what happened from that view because it’s a big pile people in there pushing and shoving after the whistle.”

On if he hoped that the goal line stand to end the first half would provide a spark: “Yes, I thought we got some momentum coming out of there. Those guys were playing as hard as they could play and I thought that play would spark it. But then we came back out and let them drive the length of the field. I really thought that was the biggest momentum change in the whole game.”

On if the last few games have highlighted the importance of having a healthy offensive line: “There’s no doubt. Particularly against a team with a bunch of NFL players on the other team (like Utah). They are a really good football team, and that doesn’t excuse the score of the game, but with a line that is not our best it created some issues for us schematically for the things that we could do.”

On what you tell the recruits, like Jason Harris and Regen Terry, who were in attendance for a blowout loss like that: “We were just talking about that a few minutes ago with those guys. Those guys are here on official visit capacities and some guys unofficially, and in times like this things might look a little different because those guys are here with the early signing date. They can see the opportunity to really help early and that’s really the message we’re giving to them because we got a lot of combination of freshmen and first-year players that are out there playing for us right now and we’ve obviously got some holes to fill. Those recruits can have an immediate impact on our football program.”

On any positives he can take from this game: “There’s not a whole lot of positives but guys continued to play and we got the ball back and scored late, but that was against their second group. But even against a really good football team there wasn’t a lot of positives and that’s on us as coaches to fix things and move on.”

On if he ever imagined he’d miss a bowl game in both of his first two years at Arizona: “No. Never. It’s my job to to right the ship, but no I never thought about it that way.”

On shifting the focus to next week’s rivalry game against ASU: “We talked about that in the locker room. What we wanted tonight for our seniors didn’t happen, and what we can do for our seniors now is to get the (Territorial) Cup back and that’s where our focus and our attention is now. Just to clean up things from tonight and move on to Arizona State and I think that message was heard by our team.”