One game in and, well, where does Arizona go from here?
Where does it go with Khalil Tate thinking he’s a passer and not a runner?
Where does it go when the best thing going for you is the defense that doesn’t defend well enough?
After Arizona’s 28-23 loss to Brigham Young on Saturday those are the major questions for a team loaded with so many questions.
“There are things that we are going to go to work and fix,” said Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin, whose debut with the Wildcats was spoiled in a major way. “The key to that is to stay together as a team and understand, hey look, that even if we would have come back we still got issues. We have to address those issues as a coaching staff and as a team and move forward. The only way to do that is to move forward and not dwell on tonight.”
The reason, he said, was because “we gotta lot of football left.” He said that twice late Saturday night.
“The only way I know to (get things fixed) is to stay together as a team,” he said. “Everybody is going to have their opinions of what should have happened and what could have been done, but realistically those don’t matter unless you are part of this football team.”
Everything seemed well enough – just enough – through the first 30 minutes, although it was a strange first half given Tate didn’t run much, but instead threw the ball 20 times, more than half as many times as he’d ever thrown the ball in an Arizona uniform. My first thought – some in the press box thought the same – that Arizona was trying to establish Tate through the air before letting him loose on the ground.
It never happened. He ran for 14 yards on eight carries. That’s 114 less than last year’s average.
Sure, BYU had “a blueprint” in stopping Tate, last season’s run-and-stun quarterback who came on the scene with a rush.
Sumlin said BYU shut down the edges well, limiting Tate. And it also limited him from running up the middle. That kind of changed in the second half when Arizona was a bit more effective, but it wasn’t enough to be impressive or have an impact on the outcome.
What Sumlin thought of Tate’s performance will have to wait a couple of days. He said he never talks about a quarterback’s performance after a game. It needs to be done with a clear set of eyes, seeing if he was “he able to set his feet. Did he make the right reads? Were the guys (receivers) at the right depth? There’s 10 other guys who are responsible for his success.
“Sometimes he’s cleaning up other’s mistakes, too.”
The biggest oddity was Tate taking a few shots downfield. Many of them were misses. Some were by design, but seemingly not what we were used to seeing a season ago with Tate, who passed little and ran a lot.
“We left plays out there on the field,” Sumlin said.
Way too many in fact. And Arizona had to scramble. Arizona just didn’t do it with a scrambling Tate.