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Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey set for big second half

Ka'Deem Carey

Ka’Deem Carey dives into the end zone against Oregon State for one of his 10 rushing touchdowns this season. Photo by Rick Scuteri-US PRESSWIRE

Arizona Wildcats running back Ka’Deem Carey seems to get stronger in the second half.

If his performance in games also applies to the season, he’ll have one of the most special years for a running back in school history.

As it is, just do the simple math and double his stats at the midway point of the season. Carey, a sophomore, is on pace for 1,340 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground, ranking among the best marks in school history.

The new UA coaches knew what they were getting when they watched his game tape from his true freshman season and from seeing him in spring ball, but they can’t stop raving about one particular quality.

“He is a tough guy,” said co-offensive coordinator Calvin Magee, who is in charge of the running backs.

“He plays the game of football in a rough and tough kind of way. No flash. I don’t want to call him a throw-back kind of guy because he has modern-day skills, but he is tough and plays football the way it is supposed to be played.”

Head coach Rich Rodriguez says he considers backup Daniel Jenkins good enough to be considered a co-starter, but it’s proving to be hard for RichRod to take Carey out of games, even as the Wildcats go-go offense runs 90.5 plays per game, second in the nation.

Arizona, as rested as possible after a bye week, will fire up the engines again for Saturday’s home game against Washington. The Huskies are last in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, allowing 182.5 yards per game.

“When we go out there and run, run, run, I know we’re not going to get tired,” Carey said. “We’re on the same page. We’re just going to wear the defense out, and that’s what I love about our offense.”

Carey is averaging 3.81 yards on 59 carries in the first half of games.

He is averaging 6.84 yards on 67 carries in the second half.

He has 26 runs of more than 10 yards; 19 have come in the second half.

“That’s that RichRod offense,” Carey said.

“It just wears you down. I can see the defense just putting their hands on their hips and breathing a little deeper. Once I see that, I tell (quarterback) Matt (Scott), ‘Let’s go. Let’s have some fun. Let’s play football.’

“The stats show in the second half we just wear teams down.”

Using his doubled stats, 1,340 yards would put Carey No. 3 on the school’s single-season rushing list behind Trung Canidate (1,602 yards, 1999) and Art Luppino (a national-best 1,359 yards in 1954).

His 20 touchdowns would rank second behind Luppino’s 21 in 1954.

Luppino also holds the record for most touchdowns in a season — 24 in 1954. Carey, who has one receiving score this season, could also threaten that mark. As for overall scoring, it should be noted that Luppino also kicked 22 extra points that season.

As of now, Carey is getting 24.5 touches per game — he is fourth on the team with 21 receptions — and not showing signs of getting tired.

“That’s that great conditioning we worked on,” Carey said.

“We focused on that in the summer, and I feel that’s happening on the field … We’re trying to get (the defense) at their weak point, so I’m loving it. I’m loving it.”

Well, maybe not loving it so much on Sunday mornings.

“Man, it’s rough. It’s rough getting out of bed,” he said. “But that’s football. You gotta love it.”

He can handle it. He’s tough.

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