Arizona football: UA coaches seek to protect Ka'Deem Carey from injuries by limiting his scrimmage time

Coaches will be careful with star running back in annual spring game
2013-04-12T00:00:00Z 2013-04-12T23:53:15Z Arizona football: UA coaches seek to protect Ka'Deem Carey from injuries by limiting his scrimmage timeDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

The last time the Arizona Wildcats scrimmaged, All-America running back Ka'Deem Carey touched the ball once.

Things won't be much different Saturday when the Wildcats hold their annual spring game at Kindall/Sancet Stadium.

"It might be less," a smiling Rich Rodriguez said.

The decision to limit Carey's workload is all about protecting the team's most dynamic playmaker.

It, thankfully for the Wildcats, has nothing to do with Carey's off-the-field problems in December and January.

Carey's issues are well documented by now. The Canyon del Oro High School graduate was involved in an alleged domestic violence incident with his pregnant ex-girlfriend and was later charged with misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct. The case is still ongoing.

In January, he was kicked out of the Arizona-UCLA basketball game at McKale Center after an argument with a police officer.

Carey hasn't been allowed to talk to reporters this spring, but Rodriguez said he's been pleased with his running back.

"As far as the things we've asked him to do on and off the field, he's worked really hard to prove himself over again," Rodriguez said.

Carey has been on the field for all 14 of the team's practices. If he's thinking about his offseason setbacks, it's not showing.

"There's no question his maturity level is up," said Calvin Magee, the team's offensive play caller and running backs coach. "It was unfortunate the couple of things that happened. He knew there were mistakes.

"He wants to be great on and off the field."

On the field, it will be hard for Carey to top his sophomore season.

But Magee thinks that the groundwork for an even more successful junior season is being laid this spring.

Carey finished with 1,929 rushing yards last season - tops in the nation - and scored 23 touchdowns. Who knows if the numbers will be bigger this year, but Magee wouldn't bet against it.

"Coming off the year he had, it's easy to lose focus," Magee said. "On the field, he hasn't lost one ounce of focus. He's actually working harder. What's missed with Ka'Deem is how hard he plays when he's not carrying the football. He plays every play."

It's been essential for the Wildcats to keep Carey healthy this spring with injuries mounting up on both sides of the ball.

Rodriguez said Carey would have liked a bigger workload this spring, but the team won't risk his health to get him carries more than four months before the season.

"We've limited some of his reps in scrimmages, and we'll limit him Saturday because we know what he can do," Rodriguez said. "But at the same time he wants to do more and he's worked very hard."

Carey's focus and competitiveness this spring has been on display at home too.

The running back's roommate, receiver David Richards, said Carey is more determined than ever and he's feeding off of it.

"We try to push each other in everything we do. If we're playing video games, we're competing," Richards said. "I think as receivers, what we noticed last year is if we're blocking downfield for him, it's going to open some things up for him and if he's running the ball, they can't line everyone in the box.

"So it helps to have an All-American back there."

The Arizona coaches and players aren't the only ones who Carey impressed last season.

Pac-12 Networks analyst Rick Neuheisel was blown away by Carey's sophomore season. Neuheisel was at UCLA in 2011, when Carey was a freshman, and knew he was good. Still, Neuheisel couldn't have guessed Carey would break through in 2012.

"I did not realize that he would be the beast that he was," Neuheisel said. "He was a man amongst boys at times. And I'm not talking about that Colorado game where had (366) yards because that wasn't a good defense. He did it at clutch times against good teams.

"He'll be a first-round pick if he can stay healthy."

Spring Game

• When: 1 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Kindall/Sancet Stadium

• Admission: Free

• TV: Pac-12 Arizona

Contact reporter Daniel Berk at or 573-4330. On Twitter @DSBerk

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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