Arizona Wildcats vs. No. 19 Oregon Ducks

Arizona played its best game under Kevin Sumlin on Saturday, but the coach still sees areas where the UA can play better.

Notes and takeaways from Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin’s weekly Monday news conference as the Wildcats prepare for their annual Territorial Cup matchup with Arizona State:

* Sumlin said that you never really know what a particular rivalry is like until you’re immersed in it, but he has ample experience in several rivalries from his playing and coaching days and expects a higher level of intensity than usual. He also acknowledged that it’s not “just another game,” despite what some coaches or players might say.

* Sumlin has a relationship with ASU coach Herm Edwards that dates to the late 1990s. We’ll have more details on that story later today.

* Sumlin said Arizona’s defense seemed to be improving before last week’s blowout loss at Washington State. “It’s a results-based business,” he said. He also cited other factors, including turnovers that gave the Cougars prime field position.

* Sumlin said he will bring in ex-players to address the team this week but declined to say who’s on the guest list.

Scottie Young Jr.’s unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty against Washington State was the result of him decking a receiver who was not involved in the play, Sumlin said. Young will have to sit out the first half against ASU because of a targeting infraction that occurred later in the game.

* Sumlin said Khalil Tate’s 33-yard run vs. Washington State was “about as explosive” as he’s been in a game since Sumlin got here. The GPS data was similar to Tate’s 25-yard run in the previous game against Colorado, Sumlin said.

* Regarding Tate’s 48-yard pass to Devaughn Cooper in the third quarter – a throw made while Tate was running to his left – Sumlin said: “There’s not a lot of guys that can make that throw.”

* Sumlin compared receiver Shawn Poindexter to former Texas A&M star Mike Evans, who's now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both are tall receivers who had limited football backgrounds before college. Sumlin said scouts who have visited Arizona have expressed interest in Poindexter, who has eight touchdowns in his past four games.

* Sumlin said ASU receiver N’Keal Harry, whom he tried to recruit to A&M, is “a fabulous player” who has size and “great” body control. “He’s a grown man now and plays like it,” Sumlin said.

* Sumlin described ASU’s Manny Wilkins as a “very smart” quarterback who also can run and seldom turns the ball over. Sumlin called Eno Benjamin, the Pac-12’s leading rusher, a “violent runner.”

* Sumlin said tailback Gary Brightwell looked good in his return from injury but made a mistake by trying to extend the ball over the goal line late in the second quarter, resulting in a fumble.

* Sumlin said freshman tailback Darrius Smith “was back to form” after battling a “really bad” turf-toe injury for a chunk of the season. That particular injury is difficult for a player who relies on change of direction the way Smith does.

* Arizona’s seniors will participate in a pregame ceremony Saturday. Each player will be introduced over the PA system. Parents and guardians won’t walk with the players but will be on the field during the festivities.

Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or On Twitter @michaeljlev 


Michael is an award-winning journalist who has been covering sports professionally since the early '90s. He started at the Star in 2015 after spending 15 years at The Orange County Register. Michael is a graduate of Northwestern University.