The Kevin Sumlin Affect
In 2017, the top 5 rush teams in the country were: a service academy, a service academy, Arizona, a service academy, and a small private school running triple option. One team stands out, right?
Arizona ran for over 4000 yards last year and had 3 games over 400 yards on the ground. They doubled UH in rush yards (4021 vs. 2002) for the season. Insane numbers.
So what does Kevin Sumlin do as soon as he gets there? He turns the Wildcats into a 50/50 team. Zona ran 67% of the time last year but just 51% of the time (35 of 69 plays) against BYU Saturday.
Arizona averaged 309 yards rushing on 47 attempts in 2017 but Kevin Sumlin managed to hold them to just 129 yards rushing on 35 attempts in the opener.
Khalil Tate Was A Heisman Contender
Sumlin and his OC Noel Mazzone are determined to turn a super-athlete into a mere drop-back passer. QB Khalil Tate ran like a madman in 2017 until Rich Rod reigned him in. Rodriguez was fired for his handling of the offense and they brought in Sumlin to develop the QB. So far, Tate has regressed even further with the new staff.
In his first extended action at QB, Tate rushed for an FBS quarterback record of 327 yards and 4 TDs against Colorado last season. A week later, 230 yards rushing and 2 TDs. 206 against Oregon State a few weeks later. Tate was responsible for 26 TDs last season (12 rushing, 14 passing) and was named the AP Pac-12 Newcomer Player of the Year (2017).
In the only Pac-12 game before Tate got on the field, the Cats scored 24 in a loss to Utah. In the next 6 Pac-12 games with Tate at the helm, they averaged 46.5 ppg. This was definitely not the same team that UH held to 16 points on September 9th.
Tate had 34 passing attempts on Saturday, the 2nd most of his career (most: 35 vs. Oregon. 16 of those attempts came in the 4th quarter with Zona down by double-digits). The QB had only 8 rush attempts for 14 yards vs. BYU. The 8 attempts were half of his average last season.
In just one game, Sumlin has managed to ruin Tate’s Heisman campaign. Impressive work, Kev.
Arizona On Defense
BYU ran the ball effectively against Arizona’s defensive line. They controlled the clock so well that Arizona only had the ball for 7.5 minutes in the 2nd half.
Zona defensive players were cramping up during the opener. If they can’t handle night games in dry heat, how will they fair in Houston at 11 am?
The Wildcat linebackers were their best unit – combining for 28 tackles. Free safety Isaiah Hayes had a career-high 13 tackles – you never want the free safety leading your team in tackles.
The Zona defensive front put very little pressure on BYU’s QB. There were a lot of missed tackles – especially along the line. That bodes well for the Coogs.
A Few Other Notes
The Arizona OL had a total of 1 start before last week. The inexperienced group couldn’t get any push upfront. The weak link on that line: center Josh McCauley. You don’t want your worst starter lining up across from Ed Oliver.
Kicker Lucas Havrisik had a field goal blocked in the first drive of the game. He did make a 57-yarder against Washington State last year.
Arizona has 8 Texans on their roster – 4 of them from Houston.
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