Sumlin's verdict on Arizona's win over NAU: 'Not acceptable'
The first half sent people like me to a check of the Arizona record books.
The second half sent coaches like Kevin Sumlin to a check of the blood pressure medication.
The Wildcats were nearly flawless in the first half on offense -- including touchdowns on all seven first-half drives -- and scored their most points ever in a half to take a 51-13 lead at the break against visiting NAU. Arizona coasted from there -- the troubling word being coasted -- to a 65-41 victory Saturday night.
The 65 points are the seventh-most in a game for the Cats. The 720 yards rank third.
While those numbers would have made the Tucson Sugar Skulls proud, this isn't arena football and Sumlin was right to be salty afterward. He called the second-half performance "sloppy." He railed about "selfish penalties" and a lack of discipline on assignments. He called giving up 41 points "not OK."
"I addressed that in the locker room, and we're going to continue to address that," he said. "We talk about guys going into the game and continuing to finish. That did not happen."
The 11 penalties for 127 yards included two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties by safety Christian Young in the first half. He was ejected from the game. Backup linebacker Derrion Clark drew a targeting penalty in the second half and was tossed from the game and won't be able to play in the first half of next week's game against Texas Tech.
With a loaded backfield, emerging receivers and a taste of true freshman quarterback Grant Gunnell, what could have been a night to celebrate what the Wildcats did on offense (yes, even against a team like NAU) turned into worry and criticism.
Which just might be a sneaky good thing for Sumlin and the leaders on this team. You don't want to be fat and happy just because you put up points on NAU. Arizona won't be fat and happy this week.
"We aren't satisfied, for sure," said quarterback Khalil Tate.
"We didn't play collectively as well as we should have. We definitely feel like we could have played better. We have a great opponent coming in Texas Tech coming in next week. It will really be important for us this week to really stress being more disciplined in all aspects -- special teams, offense, defense. We have to make sure we're well-rounded for this next game."
What's disappointing is that it seemed as if many second and third-stringers on defense missed a golden opportunity to catch the coaches' eyes in a good way and earn more playing time.
What's troubling is that Arizona's defense often had the same issues against NAU that it has shown for several years -- a lack of pressure on the quarterback (one sack) and buckets of big plays allowed in the passing game. NAU connected on completions of 32, 24, 56, 32, 39 and 43 yards.
"Our coverage ... guys running free back there with little or no pressure on the quarterback," Sumlin said. "And at the end, guys jumping in and out of gaps who hadn't played a bunch and gave up 41 points. Again, that's not acceptable."
That's the message he says he will hammer all week -- not acceptable.
If you're undisciplined against NAU, chances are you will be undisciplined against Texas Tech.
Sumlin said there are things that happened Saturday that "we will not tolerate."
Next Saturday night will show if he's right about that.