-- If there's one thing Kevin Sumlin knew how to do well during his six seasons at Texas A&M, it was how to get his passing games going.
Despite working with nine different starting quarterbacks between 2012 and 2017, all of Sumlin's passing offenses ranked fourth or better in the SEC, including ranking first from 2012 to 2014. Every single one of those offenses averaged at least 251 yards per game and had at least 22 touchdowns in a season.
Outside of the days of Johnny Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman in Sumlin's first season with the Aggies, it has been a revolving door at quarterback for Sumlin. But as he embarks on his new journey with the Arizona Wildcats, he'll do so with a young, exciting quarterback in sophomore Khalil Tate.
Other than Manziel, Sumlin hasn't worked with a quarterback as athletic or electrifying as Tate. He might not be Manziel, with the improvisational running and passing skills, but Tate's zig-zagging style is very similar to Manziel's, which has to have Sumlin giddy.
For as much as Tate's athleticism will help Sumlin try to get his groove back after being fired at Texas A&M, Sumlin's attention to quarterbacking detail will be enormous for Tate, who still has a ways to go as a passer behind center.
Sumlin's mind for the quarterback position will help Tate and the Wildcats' offense become more balanced in 2018 because he's going to poke and prod every little detail of Tate's game. Sumlin will dissect every little mechanical error to make him a more well-rounded player.
What has to be even more exciting for Sumlin is that Tate isn't light years away from being a more prolific passer. He's raw, but he probably doesn't get enough credit for how well he throws, especially when you consider how accurate and how strong his throws are on the run or how much touch he has on deep passes.
For Tate, his evolution will come with more attention to detail and reading defenses better. Mastering the ability to see the field better and knowing what's coming from the defense will come with more time learning with Sumlin and diving deeper into his new playbook.
Tate burst onto the scene in 2017 with his legs more than his arm. He was the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week four consecutive weeks (first time in conference history) and a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award and the Davey O'Brien Award because he was a nimble, feet-first quarterback who rushed for 1,411 yards (second in the Pac-12) to just 1,591 passing yards (10th in the Pac-12).
In Tate's first six games as a starter -- which didn't come until October -- he averaged 201.2 rushing yards per game, including setting the FBS rushing record for a quarterback with 327 against Colorado in his very first start.
When Tate's legs got going, he and Arizona were nearly unstoppable, as the Wildcats went 5-1 during Tate's first six starts. However, he ended the season 0-3 because defenses took his legs away, holding him to fewer than 60 rushing yards in each game.
In the first two games of that three-game slide, Tate threw just one touchdown with two interceptions. He shattered his season average with 302 passing yards and five touchdowns in the bowl loss to Purdue, but it was clear that without his usually balanced rushing and passing attack, Tate just wasn't as efficient of a player.
Now, Tate gets to be molded and mentored by Sumlin, who will put extra attention into everything involving Tate's passing ability. From footwork and reading defenses to how Tate holds and releases the ball, Sumlin will be all over his new quarterback.
Outside of Manziel, we really didn't get to see Sumlin mold and shape a longtime starting quarterback. With more time, he would have had that chance with either Nick Starkel or Kellen Mond, but as fate would have it, Tate is Sumlin's new ball of clay.
Look at what happened when Sumlin was able to work with Manziel for two seasons. Manziel won the Heisman by leading the SEC in passing (3,702) and rushing (1,410) and accumulating 47 touchdowns in 2012, but in Year 2 with Sumlin, Manziel evolved as more of a downfield passer. He again led the SEC in passing yards (4,114), but he also threw a league-high 37 touchdown passes, compared to 26 the season before, and completed 69.9 percent of his passes, up from 68 in 2012.
Manziel ran the ball 57 fewer times in 2013, rushing for 759 yards and just nine touchdowns, as Sumlin helped him have more pocket presence and control games with his arm, then his feet.
We don't know how much Sumlin will dial down Tate's running, but there's no question that Sumlin has had much more success with more mobile quarterbacks. The Aggies won 20 games and averaged 548.5 yards and 44.3 points in the two seasons with Manziel.
They later started the season 7-1 in 2016 behind Trevor Knight, who ended up missing two games late because of an injury, but finished the season with 102 carries for 614 yards.
Sumlin doesn't need his quarterbacks to be run-first threats, but his offenses are much more explosive when the quarterback is able to create more plays with his legs. And now he's going to work with a quarterback in Tate who saw just three other quarterbacks rush for more yards than he did in 2017.
Tate will also benefit from having a solid cast of offensive weapons to work with. What helped make Manziel so good was that the Aggies were stacked with talent around him, especially with star wide receiver Mike Evans. Tate doesn't have someone as elite as Evans to work with, but 800-yard back J.J. Taylor and 500-yard receivers Shun Brown and Tony Ellison should flourish in Sumlin's high-tempo, spread approach.
As far as the intangibles that go with being a big-time quarterback, Sumlin will help Tate there, too. He has managed all sorts of personalities and styles behind center, and he'll be able to teach Tate not how to win the job of being the quarterback, but how to be the face of the program. He'll be able to teach him the discipline that comes with being a Power 5 quarterback while making sure Tate soaks up Sumlin's own swagger and confidence to add a little edge to his game.
On paper, this looks like a match made in heaven, and what's scary is that Tate has barely scratched the surface with his potential. That should all change with Sumlin coming to town.