There are a couple of great matchups of running backs this week.
Folks in the South are probably thinking about Georgia’s Todd Gurley vs. LSU’s Jeremy Hill.
Out in the West, it’s all about Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey vs. Washington’s Bishop Sankey.
That would be last year’s NCAA leading rusher vs. the guy who was leading the nation through three weeks this season before being limited to four carries — for 77 yards — in a blowout vs. Idaho State on Saturday.
Carey and Sankey have similar size (at 5-10 and about 205 pounds), identical jersey numbers (No. 25) and share a bulldog mentality.
“He’s a strong runner. He’s good in all facets of the game. He makes you tackle him,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said of Sankey.
“I think that’s the biggest similarity to him and Ka’Deem. They are guys who make you put them on the ground. They’re not going down with just an arm tackle. They’re two of the best in the country.”
Despite the limited chances vs. Idaho State, Sankey is second nationally with an average of 148.7 yards per game, trailing Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon (156.0). Carey is averaging 149.5 yards but doesn’t qualify for the NCAA stats because he has played in only two of three games.
Carey is averaging 202.5 rushing yards in his last six games, which includes his 366-yard performance against Colorado last season, setting conference and school single-game records. Sankey is averaging 152.4 yards in his past eight games.
Before that stretch, Sankey rushed 19 times for 87 yards in the Huskies’ 52-17 loss at Arizona.
“The running back is dramatically improved,” said linebacker Jake Fischer, who gets another shot at Sankey Saturday at 4 p.m. in Husky Stadium. “He’s the closest thing to Ka’Deem that we’ve played against.”
Carey run 29 times for 172 yards vs. Washington last season.
The main difference in him this year is an added 10 pounds or so. He’s listed at 207.
“If you can believe it, he’s a little stronger than he was last year in terms of finishing his runs,” said offensive coordinator Calvin Magee.
RICHARDS RETURN? Sophomore receiver David Richards, who has not played this season, is trying to make it back from a foot injury in time for Saturday’s game. He would give Arizona needed size and experience on the outside.
“He’s not full-go right now,” Rodriguez said Monday. “But he did more last night than he had done. What David Richards does in Tuesday and Wednesday’s practice will determine whether he plays Saturday or not.”
READY FOR RAIN: The early forecast for Seattle on weather.com calls for a 20 percent chance of rain Saturday.
Arizona is preparing by playing with wet footballs in practice.
“We’ve been soaking the balls in water. Ball security is definitely going to be extra important,” quarterback B.J. Denker said.
“But with our ground game, that will help. D.J. (Daniel Jenkins) and Ka’Deem only take one or two cuts and go. So, there’s not going to be any slipping on the field. I think they’ll be fine. I’ll be fine. We’ve been prepared for the rain.”
DEPTH CHART DOINGS: Don’t expect quarterback Jesse Scroggins to play any time soon.
The junior college transfer and former USC Trojan is now listed as a co-third-stringer with Nick Isham, and Rodriguez made it a point Monday to say redshirt freshman Javelle Allen has separated from the pack as the backup to Denker.
A couple of tweaks on the second-string line:
Lene Maiava, who finished the game at right tackle for an injured Fabbians Ebbele vs. UTSA, is listed as the backup right guard, with Jacob Arzouman filling the spot as the second-string right tackle. And Eric Bender-Ramsay has replaced Trent Spurgeon behind Cayman Bundage at left guard.
QUOTABLE: “If they’re smart they would. If they want to try to win the football game, they will. And that is going to be every team we play. We’re going to do what we do. We’re going to try to run the football and throw when necessary.” — Denker on if he expects Washington’s defense to stack the line of scrimmage against UA’s run game.