Arizona Wildcats coach Kevin Sumlin had no update on the status of quarterback Khalil Tate and running back J.J. Taylor for the Colorado game when asked about it Monday at his weekly presser.
Tate (ankle, hamstring) and Taylor (ankle) were held out of Saturday’s win vs. UCLA.
“I won’t know until we see what happens this week,” Sumlin said. “We don’t practice on Sunday and we’ll have treatment. So the first time we’ll see the players really...in a formal setting will be this afternoon at a 3:30 team meeting, and then we’ll be on the field at night. So right now there’s really no update for either of them.”
Sumlin said he is in constant communication with Tate about his well being.
“Our medical staff, our training staff are with him daily,” Sumlin said. “In some ways because he’s been through this before, he kinda has a good feel for where he is. The whole deal last week was he wanted to play in the worst way. That’s two years in a row he’s missed UCLA, which is right down the street from where he grew up. So he tried like crazy and then it just wasn’t right. And as I said before, we’re not going to put him or J.J. or any player in this program in harm’s way—particularly guys who have lower leg issues, ankle, knees, things like that. And let’s be honest those two guys, that’s how they thrive. By changing direction, by running .... so for those guys it’s important for them to be healthy.”
Grant Gunnell made his first career start in Tate’s place, and was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after completing 29 of 44 passes for 352 yards and a touchdown. (Sumlin’s evaluation of his performance can be read here.)
Sumlin said he is not sure if it is a competitive advantage to have Colorado guessing which quarterback the Wildcats will starter, and declined to go into detail when asked how his game planning changes when Gunnell is the starter as opposed to Tate.
“The guys that are playing are so different on paper as styles of quarterbacks, so the fact that you’re preparing for a couple different guys, that’s part of it,” he said. “One of them’s going to run out there Saturday and now there’s video on both of them, so I don’t know if there’s much of an advantage either way right now.
“[Colorado coach Mel Tucker] can recognize there’s a difference between both guys and obviously we saw some different things Saturday night, particularly early against Grant. ... All kinds of exotic blitzes, things we haven’t seen. Dropping linemen, bringing corner blitzes, things like that to get him rattled. To your point, he had to get rid of the ball quickly a bunch of times, but I don’t know that that changes things.”
While it was reported close to game time that Tate and Taylor would be out against UCLA, the Wildcats knew all week that there was a strong possibility that both would be inactive.
Sumlin credited Gunnell and running back Bam Smith, who logged 134 yards (99 receiving, 35 rushing) in Taylor’s stead, for being prepared when their number was called.
“What you saw is Grant and Bam (Smith) understand their preparation was a little bit extra,” Sumlin said.