ARIZONA FOOTBALL

Kevin Sumlin and Arizona working through pressure to reach potential

Oct 3, 2018, 12:45 PM | Updated: 5:00 pm

Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin, left, and Southern California head coach Clay Helton talk before a...

Arizona head coach Kevin Sumlin, left, and Southern California head coach Clay Helton talk before an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

While a 2-3 start isn’t ideal, Arizona football head coach Kevin Sumlin is not concerned with the added pressure his team is facing.

Coming into the season, expectations were high for Sumlin and the Wildcats. Under the leadership of quarterback sensation Kahlil Tate entering his junior campaign, Arizona was touted as a serious contender in the Pac-12 South.

Instead, they started their season with a five point loss against BYU in Tucson before getting blown out by 27 points in Houston the following week. Tate threw for 341 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, leaving fans disappointed.

Regardless of the outside noise, Sumlin and his program remain focused on their growth and progression through the season.

“What gets said about a team is what’s said and you can’t control that,” Sumlin said. “What you can control is your performance and your effort and that’s what we focus on.”

Tate’s first game was an outlier. Through five games, Tate has 1,271 passing yards with a completion rate of 53 percent. He has thrown 10 touchdowns to three picks and ran for two touchdowns of his own. The 19-year-old has shown his ability to conduct a reliable offense and adjust based on Sumlin’s scheme.

An exceptional start by running back J.J. Taylor has relieved some responsibilities from Tate’s shoulders to start the year. The sophomore breakout candidate has racked up 576 yards from scrimmage along with three touchdowns on the year.

Talent has not been a concern for Arizona, but coordination and a lack of consistency have plagued the Wildcats thus far. This is where Sumlin has applied some pressure of his own.

“Pressure is what you put on yourself,” Sumlin said. “I think that we keep pressure on ourselves, me personally and on our team to be the best they can be.”

Whether or not his team steps up to the challenge will be determined on Saturday evening, when the California Golden Bears visit Tucson at 7:00 p.m.

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