Ka'Deem a dream for Arizona football
Larry Hogan / Arizona Daily Wildcat
If you talk to anyone on the Arizona football team about Ka’Deem Carey, they’ll tell you how he likes to have fun and how much he loves football.
In interviews, Carey is always smiling and often laughing.
On Saturday, Carey ran wild, setting a Pac-12 and UA record with 366 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a 56-31 win against Colorado. It didn’t come as too much of a surprise for the sophomore Tucson native, who was named the Pac-12’s offensive player of the week for his performance.
“When I woke up [Saturday] I had a great feeling,” Carey said. “I just put it in my head that I wanted the school record. I didn’t wanna tell nobody that, but that’s just how I woke up.”
Here’s a look at Carey’s performance and what it means for Arizona’s season:
Statistically speaking, what Carey was able to do against Colorado is mind boggling, no matter how mediocre the 1-9 Buffs’ defense is.
Carey’s 366 yards were the ninth-highest single game total in FBS history and just 40 yards shy of former TCU back LaDainian Tomlinson’s record of 406, set in 1999. Carey had 25 carries and averaged nearly 15 yards per carry. For a bit of perspective, in 2011 Carey ran for 425 yards and six touchdowns — all season.
He had four runs of 30-plus yards, including 71, 64 and 46-yard plays. If not for getting tracked down at the tail end of the 71-yard run, he would have set the record for rushing touchdowns.
“He was doing a bit of a Nintendo weave,” added head coach Rich Rodriguez.
Carey broke the 28-year-old conference record of 357 yards by Washington State’s Rueben Mayes, and the 14-year-old team-record of 288 set by ex-Wildcat Trung Canidate.
Taking into account an additional 34 receiving yards, Carey gained 400 yards, breaking the 58-year-old school record.
Rodriguez was hard-pressed to think of a better single game performance from his coaching career.
“My son asked me after the game ‘have you had any guys with that many yards before?’” Rodriguez said. “Kay-Jay Harris got close, but you’d have to look it up.”
Harris was a running back for Rodriguez at West Virginia in 2004 when he set a Mountaineers and Big East record with 337 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries against East Carolina.
Rodriguez acknowledged that Carey had a great performance, but he’s been impressed with him all season.
“He always runs hard and he runs as angry as any back, I think, in the country,” Rodriguez said. “He had a few big runs and a few big plays, but the way he ran I think he’s been consistent about doing that every game.”
Carey’s performance catapulted him into a tie for second in the nation with 1,381 rushing yards and just 55 yards shy of Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson.
If he can leapfrog Jefferson and Toledo’s David Fluellen, who he’s knotted up with, he would be the UA’s first NCAA rushing champion since 1955.
The 18 touchdowns leaves him just four shy of breaking Art Luppino’s 58-year old record of 21 touchdowns. Luppino is considered by many to be one of the best players in Arizona’s history.
“He’s going to get the nation’s attention with his performance,” said senior center Kyle Quinn. “It was exciting to block for him.”
In the pantheon of the Pac-12’s talented running backs, Carey certainly deserves to be considered one of the best. He is in a battle for a spot on the All-Pac-12 first team, which takes two backs, with UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin and Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, widely considered a prime Heisman contender.
Earlier in the season, receiver Dan Buckner told the Arizona Daily Wildcat he feels Carey can win a Heisman trophy before his career at the UA is done.
That doesn’t sound so far-fetched after his dismantling of the Buffs.
“I think he can get better,” Rodriguez said.