Last season, Ka’Deem Carey burst onto the scene under first year head coach Rich Rodriguez and led the nation in rushing as a sophomore in 2012. He averaged an impressive 148.38 yards per game on his way to 1,929 yards and 23 touchdowns and gave the Arizona Wildcats a huge spark out of the backfield. For an encore, he was pushing himself to break the 2,000-yard mark in 2013 and really cement himself as top running back in the country for the second straight year. As we enter the final month of the season, does Carey have a real shot at breaking through the 2000-yard barrier?
Heading into this weekend, Carey has rushed for 920 yards in six games. He sat out the season opener for Arizona as punishment for his rough offseason but has hit the ground running since getting back on the field. He’s run for over 100 yards in every game this season and extended his impressive streak of 100-yard performances to 14 of his last 15 games. He once again leads the nation in rushing average stepping it up a notch from 2012 with 153.33 yards per game this season.
Unfortunately for Carey, that pace just isn’t going to be enough to get him past 2,000 yards. At his current average, Carey would gain about 767 yards over the final five games of the regular season. That would put him at just 1,687 yards through 11 games. If Arizona goes to a bowl game (and they need just one more win to be eligible) and Carey hits his average of 153, he would still end up at just 1,840 yards on the season. The biggest issue for Carey is that lost game from the beginning of the season.
Arizona has a chance to get an extra game, of course, if they make the Pac 12 title game. They’re currently one loss back of the Arizona State Sun Devils (whom they play at the end of the season) for the Pac 12 South division title, so they’re within reach of playing in the conference championship game. Even then, however, Carey’s 153 average would only get him to 1,993 yards, falling just short of his goal.
And that’s assuming he can keep up his lofty yards per game average. While he’s technically averaging over 150 yards per game, he’s only actually gained more than 150 twice this season. The average is inflated by his 232-yard performance against the Utah Utes earlier this season. Without that huge day, Carey is averaging only 137.6 yards per game, which is nowhere near the pace he needs to crack 2,000 in 2013.
For Carey to crack 2,000 yards this season, assuming Arizona makes a bowl game but not the Pac 12 title game, then he needs to average 180 yards per game in the next six contests (five regular season, one bowl game). He’s got a shot at it as three of the final five games on Arizona’s schedule come against rush defenses that rank No. 8 or lower in the Pac 12, starting this week with the No. 11 Cal Bears (allowing an average of 189.13 yards per game on the ground). Of course, he also must play the last team that held him under 100 yards rushing, the UCLA Bruins, down the stretch as well.
While it’s certainly within the realm of possibility (Carey averaged 228.5 yards over the final four games of 2012), it’s going to take a very special month of November for the Arizona running back to break the 2,000-yard mark. Can Carey find the magic to make it happen?