Near the end of last season, Arizona’s marketing department launched a “Team Ka’Deem” campaign to help gain national exposure for UA running back Ka’Deem Carey as he was closing in on a historic season.
Saturday in Seattle, “Team Ka’Deem” took on a different meaning. The junior was practically a one-man team on offense against Washington.
The running back was the lone bright spot offensively for the Wildcats, rushing for 132 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 30 carries. He was also the UA’s leading receiver with four catches for 49 yards in the 31-13 loss.
“Ka’Deem runs harder than anyone in the country,” said UA coach Rich Rodriguez, not for the first time. “He’s a tough guy and I’m not sure how good our blocking was. He should have gotten more yards had we had been more effective in blocking.”
Carey now has 431 yards and five touchdowns on 73 carries this season, good for 5.9 per attempt. His 143.7 yards per game rank third nationally.
After missing the season opener against NAU because of a one-game suspension, Carey has picked up right where he left off last season when he was a consensus first-team All-American.
Saturday’s effort at Washington marked the 11th time in the last 12 games that Carey has rushed for more than 100 yards. The former Canyon del Oro High School standout has scored a touchdown in 12 straight contests and has at least 128 yards in each game this season.
Last season, Carey led the nation in rushing with 1,929 yards in 13 games. In his last 13 outings overall, Carey has 2,016 yards and it’s come against quality opponents such as Oregon, Stanford, Washington (twice), USC, UCLA, Oregon State and Arizona State.
In other words, Carey is getting scarier.
Saturday, in front of a nationally televised crowd, Carey and Washington running back Bishop Sankey went back and forth all game trying to one-up each other.
Sankey, who leads the nation in rushing yards per game at 151.8, had 161 yards on a school-record 40 carries against the UA on Saturday, good for 4.0 yards per attempt.
Carey put up a 4.4-yard average in the game behind a shaky performance from the offensive line.
Carey finished with 181 all-purpose yards; Sankey didn’t record a catch.
“(Sankey) is a great back, I give him the respect he deserves, but I wasn’t impressed,” UA junior safety Jared Tevis said. “He’s not on a different level than everyone else. We go against Ka’Deem everyday.”
Special teams woes
Rodriguez wasn’t pleased with his team’s special teams performance Saturday and it’s easy to see why.
Punter Drew Riggleman, playing in his first road Pac-12 game, finished the game with a 31.5-yard average on six kicks, and had boots of 14 and 26 yards. He also let a high snap go through his hands in the end zone in the first half, resulting in a safety that gave UW an 8-0 lead.
Only one of Riggleman’s six punts landed inside Washington’s 20-yard line.
Kicker Jake Smith missed his first extra-point try of the season on Arizona’s first touchdown. He averaged 54.5 yards per kick on kickoffs and didn’t have any touchbacks.
The weather conditions were certainly a factor, but Rodriguez wasn’t buying that as an excuse.
“We didn’t punt well; we didn’t kick well at all,” he said. “It’s hard when the weather is like that, but it’s the same for both teams. They kicked it and punted it better than we did.”
QB Mannion honored
Carey wasn’t nominated for Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. The honor went to Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion, who threw for 414 yards and six touchdowns in a win over Colorado.
Mannion has 21 touchdown passes on the season, which is already the fourth-most in a single season by an Oregon State signal-caller.
Arizona State’s Alden Darby was named the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week.
Darby had two interceptions in ASU’s win over USC and returned one for a touchdown. He also had seven tackles, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
Oregon’s Bralon Addison, who returned two punts for touchdowns against Cal, won the special teams honor.
The UA has been shut out of the league awards since Jake Smith won the special teams award in Week 2 after the victory over UNLV.