Notes and takeaways from Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin’s weekly Monday news conference as the Wildcats prepare to face Colorado:

* Sumlin said Colorado receiver Laviska Shenault Jr. is “an exceptional player” who’s bigger than people think (6-2, 220). Shenault has 60 catches for 780 yards and six touchdowns, plus five rushing touchdowns. However, he has missed the past two games because of a toe injury. He is considered questionable for Friday night's game at Arizona Stadium.

* Regarding the health of No. 2 tailback Gary Brightwell, Sumlin said: “We’ll see. We’re checking on everything today.” Brightwell appeared to hurt his left ankle during the second quarter vs. Oregon. He did not return. J.J. Taylor ended up with a career-high 30 carries. Sumlin said Taylor’s workload would be managed during this short week.

* Sumlin said the victory over Oregon “can only help” when it comes to recruiting. Arizona had several high-profile official and unofficial visitors in attendance Saturday night.

* One of the areas where Arizona can get better, Sumlin said, is converting “sudden change” situations into touchdowns instead of field goals. We’ll have more on that later today.

* Sumlin gave offensive lineman Michael Eletise credit for helping Arizona finish an 18-play, 88-yard touchdown drive against Oregon. Eletise entered at right guard for the injured Bryson Cain during the drive and “did a really nice job,” Sumlin said. “He made some mistakes, but he showed that he belongs.”

* Sumlin praised senior safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles’ eye discipline and aggressiveness vs. Oregon. Flannigan-Fowles had three pass breakups.

* Sumlin said redshirt-freshman cornerback Azizi Hearn gained confidence from playing extensively on special teams. He has become a key part of the rotation at corner, a position depleted by injuries and other issues.

* Sumlin said Shawn Poindexter and the other receivers have done a “really good” job as blockers and have played an underestimated role in the Wildcats’ improved running game.

* Sumlin said Shun Brown has made good decisions as a punt returner and is a threat every time he touches the ball. “He is doing a lot for this team,” Sumlin said.

* Asked why he’s never coached in the NFL, Sumlin said he always has had an affinity for college football – in particular helping young men grow and mature.

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.