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Arizona AD Dave Heeke says he’s committed to Kevin Sumlin for year 3

Arizona coach Kevin Sumlin greets his team's defense as they play Arizona State during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Despite missing a bowl game and losing to Arizona State in both of his first two years as head coach of Arizona, Kevin Sumlin’s job as head coach appears to be safe.

Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke told reporters after the game that Sumlin will return for the 2020 season.

“We have no reason not to be committed to coach Sumlin, to Kevin, and the process he’s put in place,” Heeke said.

Arizona has won nine games in two seasons under Sumlin and six of them have been against Pac-12 opponents.

Year three for Sumlin will begin with a new starting quarterback, following the departure of senior Khalil Tate who played in his final game as a Wildcat against Arizona State.

Freshman Grant Gunnell took 144 pass attempts for Sumlin’s Wildcats in 2019 and is expected to fill the role. He finished the season with 1,239 passing yards, nine touchdowns and one interception, including a 352 yard passing performance against UCLA to start the Pac-12 season.

However, with the departure of Tate, Gunnell will have big shoes to fill. Tate threw for more than 6,000 yards and rushed for more than 2,000 yards through his career as a Wildcat.

Sumlin will rely on Gunnell for more production in the win department.

The offense under Sumlin really fell off in the last three weeks of the season scoring a combined 27 points against Oregon, Utah and ASU to close things out.

Arizona fired defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, linebackers coach John Rushing and defensive line coach Iona Uiagalelei in the second half of the 2019 season.

“Getting a defensive coordinator on board, continuing to build through player development, continuing to build the talent level and the number of players through recruiting, we’re looking forward to year three,” Heeke said.

Sumlin was brought on to replace Rich Rodriguez who went 7-6 in his last season at Arizona in 2017, including a loss in the Foster Farms Bowl against Purdue to end the season.

He finished with a 43-35 record with the Wildcats and went to a bowl game in each of his first four seasons and five of his six total seasons. Sumlin is 9-15 through his first two seasons.

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