NEW Arizona Wildcats football logo 2 Sumlin UA

Notes and takeaways from Arizona Wildcats coach Kevin Sumlin’s weekly Monday news conference at the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility:

* Layth Friekh’s return from NCAA limbo isn’t the only change coming to the offensive line. With Friekh back at his left tackle spot, freshman Donovan Laie will move to right tackle. Cody Creason will shift from right tackle to left guard. Bryson Cain and Tshiyombu Lukusa likely will rotate at right guard.

* Regarding Arizona’s 0-2 start, Sumlin said: “Nobody expected that. We don’t expect that. What we can do is get better every week. That’s our approach, and we start back on that today.”

* To that end, Sumlin said he and his staff have a much better feel for their personnel through two games. “We’ve got a two-game résumé right now really of who we are and what guys can do,” he said.

* After Arizona ran 100 plays but scored only 18 points at Houston, Sumlin said the Wildcats must find a way to generate more explosive plays. Khalil Tate’s 46-yard pass to Tony Ellison in the fourth quarter was the UA’s longest play of the season.

* Sumlin wasn’t sure whether Tate would be hampered this week by the ankle injury that limited him against the Cougars. Sumlin said Tate came into the facility Monday morning, presumably for treatment.

* Sumlin was pleased with Tate’s ability to communicate during the Houston game and his willingness to play through the injury deep into the fourth quarter.

* On defense, Sumlin is seeking more “negative plays.” The Wildcats have yet to produce a sack or a takeaway. He suggested they will make schematic changes to create more of those plays but wouldn’t elaborate on what that might look like.

* Sumlin is hopeful that cornerback Jace Whittaker and safety Scottie Young Jr. will be able to return Saturday. Both dressed but did not play last week. ESPN reported that both players had hamstring injuries.

* Sumlin said he’d find out more today about the status of defensive tackle Dereck Boles and safety Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. Both left the Houston game and did not return. Boles had to be carted off because of an apparent right knee injury.

* Sumlin on QB Rhett Rodriguez, who went 4 of 5 off the bench at the end of the game: “He operated (the offense) well. He’s a guy that’s very, very capable of playing winning football.”

* Sumlin said the freshmen who got extensive reps against Houston seemed much more comfortable than in Week 1, especially safety Dayven Coleman, who told Sumlin he wasn’t quite ready for the speed and intensity of college football heading into the opener.

* Sumlin said putting the quarterback under center in a short-yardage situation like the goal-to-go sequence in the fourth quarter is easier said than done when the offense operates out of the shotgun or pistol. 

Contact sports reporter Michael Lev at 573-4148 or mlev@tucson.com. On Twitter @michaeljlev