Ka'Deem carries the load for Arizona in punishing fashion
OCT 16, 2013 12:29p ET
Be warned. Be prepared.
"I'm thinking, 'Do not send that same blitz that you just did,'" Carey said, of his thoughts on opposing teams. "They've been smart because they haven't given me that (running) lane. But it's going to come. Patience is a virtue.
"I think Utah, that'll be the game. Our offensive line is clicking."
If it's anything like it's been the last two games, Carey could be in for a long night -- a good night, but a heavy lifting kind of night. Utah is limiting opponents to just 133 yards rushing years per game. Carey is averaging 142.3 yards a game, fourth best in the nation.
He led the nation last year, but the yards have been tougher to come by this fall, in large part because Arizona's lack of a consistent passing threat has allowed opponents to key on him.
It's unlikely to be much different Saturday night when Utah comes to Tucson, fresh off its upset of Stanford. Last year, Carey rushed for 206 yards in a 34-24 Arizona win over the Utes. He averaged 7.9 yards per carry.
"He's one of the best backs in the country; certainly one of the premier guys in the country," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "He's a physical runner, has good size, has great quickness and great vision. He (runs) north and south. It's tough to tackle him … If we are going to have any chance against them, we're got to slow that down a bit. He's got all our respect."
Whittingham isn't alone. USC interim coach Ed Orgeron said Carey, who had 132 yards against the Trojans, "has great balance and makes great cuts. He's tough to stop.
"He makes you miss. He's a spinner, a great spinner. When running backs spin they cause turnovers, but this guy has great ball security."
Part of Carey's success is his ability to take the hits and move on. Through two-plus years of his career, he's proved to be tougher than an airplane's black box.
"He's a punishing guy," said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, whose team gave up 119 yards to Carey. "He almost tries to initiate the contact. He keeps his legs moving after contact. It's one of the unique things he possesses."
Against Washington and then USC, it seems like every yard is earned … two yards here; four yards there. Then a 9- or 10-yard run here or there. A lot of the yardage is coming after the first or second contact by defenders.
"I know they can't contain the hunger that I have," he said. "When I step on the field I want to make it count every time I touch the ball."
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez sees it happening. And even though Rodriguez said Carey didn't have his best game last week against USC, he hasn't had a bad week this season.
Carey, a junior from Tucson, has shown his coach a drive to succeed that was seemingly intensified by a one-game suspension at the start of the season for off-field misconduct.
"His attitude has been great," Rodriguez said. "Sitting out made him hungrier and made him appreciate what he had.
"He plays extremely hard. We're pleased with his progress."
It's always forward progress. And that's a comfort to senior quarterback B.J. Denker, who considers Carey to be the offense's parachute.
"He's great," Denker said. "When in doubt just give it to 25 (Carey's number). He helps me tremendously. When it's third and five just give it to two-five. I don't think people realize how amazing he is. He's going to get two, three yards at least a carry -- just from the fact he won't go down."
Carey said he came into the season bigger and stronger. He's playing at a comfortable 205 pounds, he said, up about 20 pounds since he arrived on campus.
Carey enters Saturday's game with 569 rushing yards in the four games he's played for the 3-2 Wildcats. He's 77 yards away from 3,000 career yards and 173 shy of No. 5 on the school's rushing list. He's already at 4,112 yards in total offense.
And yet, there's still more he can do, he said. It's why he runs hard every play.
"I feel like this team needs it," he said, "When they see somebody busting their heads and trying to play for the team, it's extra motivation. I love punishing teams because they are out to punish me. Why accept the hit when I can deliver the hit?"
As Carey has predicted, the best may be yet to come. For the first time this season, the Wildcats showed signs of a passing threat last week against USC (363 yards, four TDs), which could open up possibilities for the running game.
"I'm excited to see what happens," Carey said. "They see now we have a threat down the field. Toward the end of the game, that's when I've got a bust (big run). I'm excited."
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