Ka’Deem Carey lives for these games.
Packed house, a ranked opponent and a running back on the other sideline that just may be every bit as good as Arizona’s All-American.
Yeah, Carey will be ready come Saturday when the UA travels to Seattle to play 16th-ranked Washington.
If Arizona-Washington is the headliner in Seattle, then Carey versus the Huskies’ Bishop Sankey is the undercard that will keep fans in their seats for three-plus hours.
Sankey ranks second in the nation with 148.7 rushing yards per game, and is 10th nationally with 446 rushing yards this season. He has reached the end zone four times already.
Carey has played in two of the UA’s three games and has gained 299 yards and scored four touchdowns on 43 carries.
Oh, this is going to be fun.
“I love to go against competition,” Carey said. “Last year, I liked to see great backs in person and take some style from them if I need to. I’m a competitor, the team is competitive, so our defense is going to go out there and try to shut him down, and their defense is going to try to do the same with me.
“So I’m excited and we’ll see who comes out on top.”
The two backs are strikingly similar.
They are both listed at 5 feet 10 inches, and Carey — at 207 pounds — weighs just four pounds more than Sankey. Both backs rely on their power, vision and balance more than their open-field moves and jukes.
In other words, if you’re playing with Sankey or Carey on NCAA Football 2014 on your favorite video game system, the turbo button will be much more effective than the juke button.
These backs don’t go down easy.
“I think that the biggest similarity between (Sankey) and Ka’Deem is that they are both guys that make you put them on the ground,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “They aren’t just going to go down with an arm tackle.
“They are two of the best backs in the country.”
Both have plenty of support from their own camps.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian gushed over Sankey and what he has brought to the Huskies this season. In 2012, Sankey rushed for 1,439 yards and 16 touchdowns on 289 carries. Against Arizona last season, the Spokane, Wash., native went for 87 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
“Bishop has a great deal of patience. He has excellent balance; he explodes and cuts in tight quarters,” Sarkisian said. “He’s a complete back. He’s a very physically gifted kid, and he’s in great physical condition. When you give him the ball 35 times like we did against Illinois, you don’t even notice at the end of the game because he still wants more.”
And it’s no secret the Wildcats love their guy, too. After sitting out the NAU game, Carey has been as strong as ever the past two games.
Saturday will mark Carey’s first chance to really prove if he’s even better than last season, when he led the nation in rushing and was a consensus first-team All-American.
Rodriguez thinks his best playmaker has indeed improved.
“He’s bigger — he’s about 10 pounds heavier — and I think he’s stronger, which a good year in the weight room has done,” Rodriguez said. “He’s worked hard. He had a good summer, and he may be a little faster, too.”
That may all explain why it’s so tough to bring the former Canyon del Oro High School standout to the ground.
“You think the play is over and then it’s another 30 yards down the field,” UA senior guard Chris Putton said. “Any back that can do that is a game-maker.”
On Saturday, there will be two “game-makers” on the field.