Carey looks to repeat historic Colorado feat
Leading 42-17 in the third quarter over Colorado on a cool Nov. 10 afternoon in Tucson last year, then-sophomore Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey burst through a huge hole in the line of scrimmage and appeared to have an 81-yard touchdown run. But, in reality, Carey was chased down and caught from behind at Colorado’s 10-yard line by CU defender Terrel Smith.
The almost-touchdown run was the only blemish on Carey’s day that currently stands as the greatest single game performance by a Wildcat running back.
“I got hawked down,” Carey said about the 71-yard run.
The Wildcats won 56-31 that night. Carey set the Pac-12 Conference record and smashed the school record in the game with 366 rushing yards. His five touchdowns against Colorado tied a conference record.
“It was a good game execution by the [offensive] line,” Carey said, looking back on the game. “They were giving me holes that trucks could go through.”
The record-setting game by Carey came near the end of the season against a CU team that, at the time, had just one victory to its eight losses and was dealing with the possibility of a coaching change.
“They played hard last year,” said head coach Rich Rodriguez of the Buffaloes. “Things just seemed to snowball on them, and they couldn’t recover.”
Exactly one month after Carey ran for nearly a quarter of a mile, Colorado hired then 47-year-old San Jose State head coach Mike MacIntyre. MacIntyre, who had turned a struggling Spartans program into a nationally ranked team in two years, went to Boulder, Colo., attempting to do the same.
Six games into his tenure with the Buffaloes, Colorado is 3-3 and MacIntyre has quickly shaken things up.
“It’s a different [defensive] coordinator and different scheme,” Rodriguez said of the CU defense this year. “Some guys that were starting last year are now backups, so they’ve got a few new personnel this year.”
One of the new personnel on CU defense, who didn’t witness Carey’s game but said he will absolutely be preparing for him, is linebacker Addison Gillam.
The freshman averages just fewer than 10 tackles a game (9.8), which leads the conference. Gillam had arguably his best game on Oct. 5 against then-No. 2 Oregon. He finished the game with 15 tackles and one sack.
Gillam is part of a Colorado linebacking core that has greatly improved from last season — so much so that it has even caught Carey’s eye.
“They’re getting directed in a good way by their coach up there. They’ve got a lot of fire,” Carey said.
While Carey had many impressive performances last season, it was his 366 yards that most likely gave him the edge at the end of the season when he beat Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson by 43 yards for the season total rushing record.
Heading into this week’s game with the Buffaloes, Carey currently sits in 11th with 805 rushing yards, 231 yards behind the leader, Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews, but is first in yards per game.
Another strong performance by Carey against Colorado could once again give him the push to be the NCAA rushing leader, as long as he doesn’t get caught from behind.
“I’ve worked all off season on my burst and speed,” Carey said. “Long story short: It won’t happen again.”
—Follow Luke Della @LukeDella