After big loss to Houston, Kevin Sumlin's Arizona tenure is off to 0-2 start

Yahoo Sports

The arrival of Kevin Sumlin at Arizona made a lot of sense when it happened.

Arizona needed to make a splash after unceremoniously parting ways with Rich Rodriguez. Sumlin needed a job after his time was up at A&M and his teams had always been above .500 even if Aggie fans were always disappointed at the end of the season.

Oh, and with dynamic quarterback Khalil Tate on the Arizona roster, it was easy to envision Tate playing like Johnny Manziel did in 2012 for Sumlin in College Station.

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This ain’t 2012. After getting blown out 45-18 at Houston on Saturday, Arizona is now 0-2 to start the 2018 season. Sumlin’s Aggies lost all of two games total six years ago.

Kevin Sumlin and Khalil Tate are now 0-2 together. (Getty)
Kevin Sumlin and Khalil Tate are now 0-2 together. (Getty)

What’s gone wrong

Tate was the most dynamic quarterback in the country in Rodriguez’s read-option system. His greatest strength is as a runner; he rushed for 1,411 yards on just 153 attempts in 2017.

This season he’s looked more like a conventional pocket-passing quarterback. He rushed for 14 yards against BYU in Week 1. It got worse in Week 2. Tate struggled running the football and suffered a left ankle injury in the first half. He got the ankle taped up and returned to the game but didn’t have much mobility at all, especially before halftime.

Houston realized that and pressured Tate whenever possible. It worked, because Tate had no way to escape it other than to throw the ball away. He finished the game 24-of-45 passing for 342 yards and two interceptions. Tate had never thrown more than 40 passes in a game in his college career until Saturday.

He also finished with eight yards rushing.

It feels ridiculous to say a guy’s Heisman chances are ruined after the first two weeks of the season. But there’s nothing shown by Tate and the Arizona offense to make you think he’s the Heisman-contending quarterback we all were expecting.

The defense hasn’t been very good either

Arizona returned nine defensive starters from 2017. Yeah, the Wildcat defense wasn’t very good a year ago, but it was reasonable to expect some improvement. So far, not so good.

The season opened with a 28-23 loss to a BYU team that scored more than 24 points just three times in 2017. Saturday, Houston’s offense had its way with Arizona’s weak secondary. D’Eriq King threw for 246 yards and threw all four of his touchdowns in the first half when Houston ran out to a 31-0 lead.

Arizona tried to come back and got stuffed

The Wildcats had a shot to pull within 14 points of Houston midway through the fourth quarter but couldn’t score a touchdown from the 1-yard line.

Houston stuffed Arizona four straight times from the 1, including on a fourth-down play where Arizona ran the ball up the middle — away from DT Ed Oliver — from the shotgun.

Arizona immediately got two points back on a safety on Houston’s first offensive play. But the possession turned into nothing and the Wildcats somewhat inexplicably punted with five minutes to go and trailing by 20.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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