Football is nearly here! And in a year that has brought a bit of unusualness, Arizona Coach Kevin Sumlin and Arizona State Coach Herm Edwards are prepared for anything.
Already, Sumlin has had quite the week, as it was announced that the Arizona head coach has contracted Covid. The Arizona head coach had tested over the weekend, and his results came back positive earlier this year.
And like so many others across the country, he now finds himself having to prepare for the 2020 Arizona Football season at home.
Luckily for Sumlin “He’s doing alright,” he said. “It’s a process and it’s unfortunate, but we’ll see where we are at the end of the week.”
However, as he now isolates himself at home with virtually no symptoms for the next week or so, that may not be the biggest obstacle for him this season.
In fact, Sumlin will have to put together quite the coaching performance this year. For a program that is coming off back-to-back losing seasons, there is zero margin for error.
And to make things even more challenging, the have lost numerous defensive players to transfer, most notably linebackers Colin Schooler and Tony Fields II. On top of that, the team will also have to play one of the toughest schedules in the Pac-12.
In an unprecedented year that had sidelined numerous program prior to Spring Football, Sumlin feels fortunate as his team at least got to participate in four practices before shutting everything down.
His new, defensive coaching staff was at least able to see some things from the team and begin implementing their new schemes.
Nonetheless, he is aware of the challenge that lies ahead. “We got of things to do as a team,” he said. “But I think we’ve got plenty of time to get it done.”
Just 100 miles North, Arizona’s rival Arizona State is facing a few different sets of challenges. Aside from dealing with Covid as well, the Sun Devils enter the 2020 football season as a Darkhorse favorite to not only win the Pac-12 South but possibly even contend for a conference championship as well.
Coach Edwards enters his third season in Tempe, and with quarterback Jayden Daniels and a slew of defensive talent returning, one of their biggest issues moving forward will be staying focused, staying healthy, and seizing their opportunity.
“I think they understand, it’s a six-game season right now, we know that”, Edwards said. “But it could be seven or eight according to what you do during that time period.”
Picked to finish second in the Pac-12 South, the Devils are certainly a talented team with the potential to make a big run. However, for them, there is little room for error.
In a year that has been condensed due to the virus, it will all be about their preparation, and how they navigate through a rather unique season.
“As we prepare for opponents, we’re actually preparing for two opponents”, Edwards said. “Ones that you see on tape, on film, and there’s the one you cannot see, and you can’t let your guard down at any time.”
However, for Edwards, the message for his guys is simple, to have fun and enjoy it. “I want them to enjoy being a Student-Athlete”, he said. “Don’t get caught up in anything else… go out there and have fun with it.”