What are Arizona fan’s expectations for year two of Head Coach Kevin Sumlin?
Optimists would point to four of Arizona’s losses (BYU, USC, UCLA, ASU) by a combined 11 points, and none of them by more than five points, as reasonable, considering the implementation of a new offensive scheme by Offensive Coordinator Noel Mazzone, and nagging injury to first string quarterback Kahlil Tate.
Pessimists would cite blowout losses to Houston (-27), Utah (-32) and Washington State University (-41) as evidence of little progress against decent to good teams, with a retained defensive coordinator in his third year, Marcel Yates, returning a number of starters from the 2017 season. Defensively, Arizona improved marginally in points allowed from 2017 (34.4) to 2018 (32.6). The newly installed Spread-Offense with Heisman hopeful Kahlil Tate sputtered though, posting 10 fewer points per game from the previous Zone-Read-Option style of Rich Rodriguez.
Most Arizona fans expected better than the 5-7 record, with a season ending, head scratching finish, giving up 20 points in the 4 quarter that allowed rival ASU to eke out a win when Arizona missed a potential game winning field goal as time elapsed.
The one-point differential was like Lucy pulling the football from Charlie Brown once again. With a split 6-6 in his first season, and a possible bowl game, Arizona fans would have reason for more optimism going into the 2019 campaign. Instead, Arizona got an all-too-common 5-7 record that included a loss to the hated Sun Devils.
Concerning, to some observers, was not only Arizona’s inability to score at key moments during the season (4 and 1 vs. USC, potential game winner vs. ASU) but apparent coaching gaffes, such as Kevin Sumlin’ s admitted mistake in going for a 2-point conversion several times against ASU. Some also questioned game clock management and use of time outs at various points during the season.
Take No Prisoners Opinion
Despite a tougher schedule, 2019 is a pivotal season for Kevin Sumlin and staff. Marcel Yates is in his fourth year. Defensive improvement is a must.
Has Kahlil Tate made the adjustment to the Noel Mazzone offensive scheme? Will he run? Will he throw? Has he matured? Can he stay healthy? Will he be the leader Arizona needs?
Kevin Sumlin takes a 91-50 career record as a head coach in 11 seasons, with four at Houston, six at Texas A&M, and one at Arizona. After two recruiting classes, incoming Sumlin recruits appear bigger than those from the Rich Rod era. Fans should be patient with a coach with only one season under his belt in the Old Pueblo, but patience is a Thin Red Line in Tucson. Over the last two decades, Arizona is a combined 108-125 in 19 seasons. So, it’s easy to understand why long suffering Arizona fans are anxious about the upcoming football season.