Arizona Football

Sumlin starts evaluation of his Wildcats with ‘clean slate’

New Arizona football coach Kevin Sumlin has been on the job for two months and a week and no one looked forward to the first day of Spring practice more than him.

Has it been a whirlwind to this point? Well, at least he knows where his parking spot is now.

“It’s slowed down now but in the beginning it was a lot of this,” he said, referring to speaking to the media. “Not a lot of that (football, as he pointed to the field). Now, there’s a lot more of that.”

Football is what he does; football is who he is.

Kevin Sumlin at his first Arizona practice. (Photo courtesy of Matt Moreno/

“It’s why I’m here,” he said. “Being on the grass is always a good thing.”

Then he made – or tried to make – a joke: “It’s a little chillier than I thought it would be … but that was good. It’s actually slowed down a bit.

“I actually know how to get back home and back to my parking spot over here without navigation.”

He then smiled and said, “you (guys) gotta laugh.”

If only we could hear more one-liners. Monday will be the only time the media gets to spend with Sumlin to hear him give some insight until the annual Spring Game next month.

He provided little insight on Monday although he went station to station with paper in hand doing evaluations. He did say again that he’s was happy to be back on the field. He said last week he spent time on the practice field to see where things were and where he’d hold some of the drills.

So, for 90 minutes he was in heaven or at least Tucson’s version of such in the spring as he worked his new team.

“I thought they responded well,” Sumlin said as he met with the media afterward. “The first day with new coaches they don’t know where to go, they don’t know what to expect, they don’t know anything. So, all in all for (it being) a new everything their energy level was great and they gave good effort. And that’s all you can ask for right now.”

He said the attitude “is great.”

It’s likely to be that as he’s brought new life – and blood – to a program that needed it after what turned out to be a drama-filled postseason with their head coach being fired shortly after their bowl game.

Two weeks later, Sumlin was hired and his assistants hired.

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Now, comes the spring where Sumlin said he won’t look back at what the players have already done – he hasn’t even looked at Khalil Tate’s tapes – so he can have a clear vision of what’s ahead.

He said he’s coming in “with a clean slate” so as to not be “swayed” by what he has seen on tape.

He told them “for some of you that’s awful news because you think you’ve arrived and for some of you this is great news because I don’t know what you can do and I’ve kept it that way.”

He said this spring is all about evaluation and creating depth. But, we all know that.

“Evaluate our players and evaluate our schemes based on what our guys can do,” he said. “We’ll see what we can do first and then see what’s the best way for us to win games. That might be different on April 14 than it is today.”

Yes, he’ll have a depth chart – more because he’ll have to for publications – but “I wouldn’t put too much stalk in it.”

How this spring progresses until the actual spring game in April happens will be anyone’s guess given there will be no media availability until the spring game. Media had access to the team for about 30 minutes on Monday

He said the next four weeks – 14 days of practice – will be comprised of four “installations” of the offense.

“I’ve sped up and slowed down what guys can grasp, particularly the quarterback,” he said. “That will dictate how far we can go.”

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