Rushing is an individual statistic. But ask star running back Ka'Deem Carey and the Arizona Wildcats, and they'll agree: It's a team effort.
The UA will take the field in the Dec. 15 New Mexico Bowl with a chance to secure a rushing title for Carey and launch a potential 2013 Heisman Trophy campaign.
Both reflect well on an offense that's still learning the intricacies of first-year coach Rich Rodriguez's attack.
"It shows not only what we can do as a running back, but as an offense," said starting left tackle Mickey Baucus. "It shows that there's so many different things we can do. At the start of the season, we were (ranked) in the top 5 nationally in passing. During the second half of the season, we started to run the ball more."
The results have been astonishing.
Heading into the postseason, Carey - a sophomore who prepped at Canyon del Oro High School - ranks first nationally with 146.42 rushing yards per game. He trails Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch by 14 yards - 1,771 to 1,757 - in the total yardage count, in part because Lynch's team has played one more game (13) than Carey's (12).
Carey was named to The Sporting News and Walter Camp first-team All-America teams on Thursday, the fourth such awards for him this year. Carey is likely to be a consensus first-team All-American, Arizona's first since Antoine Cason in 2007. Carey is the 10th UA player to be honored by Walter Camp but the first to play offense. The Associated Press and Football Writers Association of America teams will be released next week.
The UA athletic department released a Carey highlight video Thursday night, using a hashtag - #TeamKaDeem - that's sure to be part of his 2013 Heisman campaign. The running back figures to receive at least a few votes when this year's award is given out Saturday.
Don't be surprised if first-year coach Rich Rodriguez keeps one eye on the scoreboard and the other on the national leaders when the UA (7-5) lines up against Nevada next week. A big performance by Carey - on national television, no less - would mark the biggest achievement in a season of exceeded expectations. There will be some pressure to perform: Nevada's Stefphon Jefferson ranks second nationally with 141.92 yards per game.
"I think the coaches are ready for this," Carey said. "Me and the coaches, we had a conversation: We're going to go out there (and try to win the rushing title). That's the way it is."
That he's this close to begin with is a testament to an offense that's come together at the perfect time. The Wildcats were decidedly pass-heavy through their first game of the season before the rushing game, led by Carey and a finally healthy offensive line, came to life. He rushed for 172 yards in the Wildcats' Oct. 20 loss to Stanford and 119 a week later in a win over USC.
Two weeks later, he made history: Carey's 366 rushing yards against Colorado set a Pac-12 Conference and UA program record. He posted 376 over the next two combined games, a win at Utah and loss to rival Arizona State.
Carey's teammates "take great pride" in his numbers, senior center Kyle Quinn said. The individual stats mean plenty to the team.
"Ka'Deem's a great running back, and we work our tails off," Quinn said. "As an entire offense, it's a big point of pride for us."
On StarNet: Join Ryan Finley's Bowl Challenge and get a chance to win prizes at azstarnet.com/bowls
No school has asked Greg Byrne for permission to speak with head football coach Rich Rodriguez, the UA athletic director said Thursday.
An online report from Tennessee earlier Thursday said the Volunteers, who have a vacancy, had spoken with Rodriguez, who went 7-5 in his first season with the Arizona Wildcats.
Byrne said that "to my knowledge," Rodriguez had not talked with Tennessee.
"It's certainly good to have your coach be mentioned and discussed as a candidate for other jobs," Byrne said, "than it is to have the other discussion."
He said talk of Rodriguez being attractive to other schools "is certainly a compliment to coach Rodriguez and the University of Arizona."
Counting on Carey
Here's where UA running back Ka'Deem Carey ranks in the NCAA's two major rushing categories:
Rushing yards per game
Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona 146.42
Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada 141.92
Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State 137.33
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois 136.23
Kenjon Barner, Oregon 135.33
Total rushing yards
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois 1,771
Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona 1,757
Montee Ball, Wisconsin 1,730
Stefphon Jefferson, Nevada 1,703
Johnathan Franklin, UCLA 1,700
Note: Ball, Franklin and Lynch have all played in more games (13) than Carey and Jefferson (12)
• What: New Mexico Bowl
• Who: Arizona (7-5) vs. Nevada (7-5)
• When: 11 a.m. Dec. 15
• TV; radio: ESPN; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM