TUCSON, Ariz. - Arizona needs to improve in a few areas heading into its game against visiting Southern Utah on Saturday night. The Wildcats haven't produced a sack or forced a turnover under new coach Kevin Sumlin, and dual-threat quarterback Khalil Tate has been mostly one-dimensional, already putting a dent in his preseason Heisman Trophy hopes.
TV: 11 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Network. LINE: None
Tate, who rushed for 1,325 yards after becoming the starter over the final nine games of last season, has been limited to 22 yards on 15 carries through the first two games this season. Tate hasn't been much more productive through the air, accounting for one touchdown pass and two interceptions. Tate also tweaked his ankle in the 45-18 loss at Houston on Saturday, but should be healthy enough to break out against a Southern Utah defense that allowed 649 total yards in a 48-25 loss at Oregon State last weekend. The Thunderbirds have a capable quarterback in Chris Helbig, who passed for 340 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score against the Beavers.
ABOUT SOUTHERN UTAH (0-2)
Helbig has a pair of big, experienced wide receivers in senior Ty Rutledge and Logan Parker, and he'll likely continue to look for both against Arizona, which has been shorthanded it its secondary this season. Rutledge has pulled down 12 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown this season, while Parker has grabbed nine passes for 105 yards. Rutledge is 6-foot-1, 198 pounds and Parker is 6-4, 205, which could create problems if they can find seams in the Arizona secondary.
ABOUT ARIZONA (0-2)
The Wildcats talked last week as if safety Scottie Young Jr. and cornerback Jace Whittaker would return against Houston, but both remained on the sideline, Whittaker with an undisclosed injury and Young due to suspension. Sumlin seemed even more optimistic that both would return this week and that would be a huge addition for the defense. Tim Hough, a senior graduate transfer from UNLV, has been playing in Whittaker's spot and he totaled six tackles and a pass breakup in the loss to Houston, so he might still find his way on the field.
1. Arizona OL Layth Friekh, who had started 33 straight games at left tackle entering this season, is expected to make his season debut after serving an NCAA-mandated suspension related to being granted an extra year of eligibility.
2. Arizona WR Shawn Poindexter has accounted for 354 receiving yards over his past five games with the Wildcats.
3. Southern Utah P Rashaan Miller is averaging 42.8 yards on his 10 punts with two traveling more than 50 yards and three stopping inside the opponent's 20.
PREDICTION: Arizona 31, Southern Utah 17
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