Running back Ka’Deem Carey is one of the potential impact true freshmen for the Arizona Wildcats, and the one with the most hype.
Fans likely will see more of him than expected in Saturday’s opener against NAU.
Carey’s window of opportunity is a bit wider now that second-stringer Daniel Jenkins is doubtful because of a sprained left ankle, coach Mike Stoops said Monday morning. Jenkins suffered the injury in the final scrimmage on Aug. 22.
Arizona will go with senior starter Keola Antolin … and then it should be Carey and sophomore Kylan Butler.
“Ka’Deem makes me very confident,” Stoops said.
The coach gave the usual cautions about a freshman running back: He had to be consistent. He has to be better in pass protection. He has to be smart enough to know where blitzes are coming from.
“We know he can run the ball, but there are a lot of other things that exist beyond running the football,” Stoops said. “Ka’Deem works hard in all of those areas. I like his attitude, his demeanor. And I think he’s a gamer.”
We’ll probably find out Saturday.
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True freshman Rob Hankins is listed as the first-string middle linebacker for the opening game, he is still competing with junior college transfer David Lopez at that spot, Stoops said.
“We’re kind of going back and forth, but we have to put one of them out there and we’ll see how that plays out,” Stoops said.
That position will only be used when Arizona is in its base 4-3 defense against bigger, more traditional schemes (i.e., ones with only two wide receivers). Stoops has estimated that the Wildcats last season played with an extra defensive back, taking out a linebacker, about 75 percent of the time.
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It’s all systems go on the 5,356-square foot video board at Arizona Stadium. Athletic director Greg Byrne, who addressed the local media after Stoops, said the board should be fully operational Saturday.
Said Stoops: “I think it’s awesome. It’s going to fun and entertaining, I hope. Hopefully, we can light it up.”
Said junior center Kyle Quinn: “That board is impressive. It’s going to be hard to deny a holding penalty. It’s going to be pretty clear whether it was or not.”
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Backup quarterback Bryson Beirne, who suffered a sprained knee in an Aug. 15 scrimmage, is doubtful for Saturday’s opener, which is not unexpected.
Stoops did not divulge what he would do if he has to use a backup quarterback against NAU. Arizona, still trying to redshirt senior Matt Scott, isn’t going to put him in for meaningless snaps. Will the coaches put in true freshman Daxx Garman to help get him ready in an emergency?