What went right, what went wrong for Arizona against Utah
What went right
Run, Carey, run
OK, junior running back Ka’Deem Carey is a standout in almost every game, but Saturday night he surpassed the 3,000 career yards mark. On top of that, he broke a school record with 40 rushing attempts. Head coach Rich Rodriguez even compared him to Forrest Gump.
“I feel it; I feel every 40 carries,” Carey said. “That was a fun game. The blockers [were] out there giving me holes, and I just took it.”
Ryan Revock/ The Daily Wildcat UA Quarterback B.J. Denker coughs up the ball at the goal line against Utah on Saturday.
Tyler Baker/ The Daily Wildcat UA Runningback Ka'Deem Carey runs the ball for a touchdown against Utah on Saturday.
Last year against Utah, Carey garnered 204 rushing yards. He finished Saturday’s game with 236 rushing yards, the second-most in his career, and one touchdown.
Utah senior linebacker Trevor Reilly is no stranger to the toughness of defending Carey.
“He doesn’t stop,” Reilly said. “You have to make sure you wrap and roll with him because he just does not go down. He’s one of those backs that always leans forward and gets a couple more yards.”
The recent Phil Steele Midseason All-American has 805 rushing yards this year and is No. 1 in the country in rushing with 161 a game, 13 ahead of the runner in second.
The Wildcats’ defense was able to hold back Utah junior wide receiver Dres Anderson. Considered one of Utah’s top two receivers, Anderson was held to only 29 receiving yards and came out scoreless.
Anderson is having his best season yet with 592 receiving yards. He was able to gather 141 against BYU in September, and even top contender Stanford allowed him 82 receiving yards with four completions.
Arizona’s fast-tempo offense prevailed, but its defense still made a big difference. The Wildcats combined for seven tackles for loss, having only six combined in the first two Pac-12 Conference games. Utah was held to a season-low 329 yards of total offense.
Arizona’s defense has four touchdowns this season.
The Phillips phenom
Receiver Nate Phillips came out strong Saturday night and gathered 63 receiving yards and one touchdown for the Wildcats. The true freshman led the team with four receptions.
“Nate’s got the same kind of hunger or intensity as Ka’Deem has,” Rodriguez said.
Phillips caught a 7-yard touchdown strike. Denker then made the two-point conversion, putting the Wildcats at 28-21.
“B.J. threw a perfect ball, and I just dropped it right in the bucket; I caught it,” Phillips said.
Arizona’s offense played at a fast tempo overall, making 88 plays for 468 yards.
— Follow Megan Coghlan @MeganCoghlan
What went wrong
Fourth and fail
Arizona went for it on fourth down three times Saturday night, converting on zero of them. The first time might have been the most costly, as it came on the doorstep of what should have been three points.
On their second drive of the game, tied 7-7, the Wildcats went for it on fourth and one on Utah’s 2-yard line. Instead of kicking the almost guaranteed three points, Arizona went for the touchdown and failed. Senior quarterback B.J. Denker was sacked for a 7-yard loss.
“I hate punting the ball,” head coach Rich Rodriguez said after the game. “If we’re on the other side of the 50, we’re usually going to go for it.”
The Wildcats are now 5-for-14 this season on fourth down. Don’t expect that pattern to change, though, as it’s part of the high-tempo offense Rodriguez has instilled in the program.
Wildcats have no rhythm
Arizona struggled to find and maintain a rhythm last week against USC. On Saturday, after possessing a strong tempo and momentum in the first half, the Wildcats came out flat in the second half.
UA only captured one first down on its first three drives of the second half. This inconsistent tempo could be a problem if it continues, since the Wildcats’ offense is based on a quick, constant tempo.
“We got to get the defense tired,” Rodriguez said after the game. “We couldn’t do that on the first couple of our drives. … That is something we struggled with.”
Carey sets record
In 1994, Ontiwaun Carter set the Arizona record with 36 carries in a single game. Saturday, Ka’Deem Carey broke the record with 40 carries for 236 yards.
“On the second-to-last drive, I said we were going to win by putting the team on Ka’Deem’s back,” Denker said. “Everyone knew we were going to give the ball to 25. I said, when we got into this press conference, I was going to say we won the game because he milked the clock. And then he goes and fumbles, but our defense saved us.”
While Carey didn’t appear too tired and hurt after the game, the 40 carries are going to take their toll, and everyone knows the All-American will get the ball. With solid back-ups in Daniel Jenkins and even third-string Jared Baker, maybe next week the load will lighten for Carey.
“Forty carries, that’s a lot,” Rodriguez said. “But Ka’Deem is one of the best I’ve coached.”
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella