The Arizona Wildcats enjoyed a nice bit of success in 2012 under first year head coach Rich Rodriguez thanks in no small part to the emergence of running back Ka’Deem Carey. The sophomore burst onto the scene to become the nation’s leading rusher last fall and should be poised for even bigger things in 2013. Will he be able to maintain his spot at the top of the running back class again this season?
He has quite a performance to try and follow. Last season, Carey exploded as the featured back in Rodriguez’s spread offense, averaging 6.37 yards per carry as he racked up 1,929 yards to lead all rushers in college football. His 23 rushing touchdowns ranked No. 3 in the country and he had a ridiculous 10 games with at least 100 yards rushing. Against the Colorado Buffaloes, he really put on a show, rushing 25 times for 366 yards with five touchdowns.
Some of that success, however, may have contributed to an offseason filled with headaches. Carey found himself in some trouble with authorities when he was accused of assaulting an ex-girlfriend shortly after the season ended. Those allegations were eventually dropped, but they were an unwelcomed distraction for Carey who should have been using this offseason to ramp up for a truly historical season in 2013.
The Wildcats will return their entire offensive line in 2013, providing some excellent continuity in front of Carey to continue his rushing success. Rodriguez has also had a full year to see what Carey is capable of and will undoubtedly have cooked up new ways to get his talented back the football. Blowing past the 2,000-yard mark is well within reach for Carey as he becomes the offensive leader of the Wildcats next season.
His biggest hurdle to setting the pace for running backs next season may rest on the quarterback position. Last season, Arizona was able to find offensive balance with Matt Scott slinging the football all over the field. Scott is gone and there are some questions about the possible replacements for him in 2013. If teams no longer have to stay true to the pass, Carey could see a lot more defenders crowding the box and making things difficult for him in his junior season.
At the end of the day, however, Carey’s talent is undeniable. His home-run ability will be a huge asset to Arizona next fall and will be a serious headache for defensive coordinators trying to contain him. Even if defenses load up against him and keep him from hitting the 2,000-yard mark in 2013, look for Ka’Deem Carey to be one of the best backs in college football yet again this season.