BOULDER, Colo. — The face of a college football program is usually the head coach. He’s the man out at pep rallies, talking to fans, kissing babies, posing for pictures, doing local commercials and signing autographs.
And as hilariously corny as Rich Rodriguez’s Vantage West Credit Union commercials are, the head man is not the face of UA football at the moment. That’s a distinction that belongs to running back Ka’Deem Carey.
The UA kicked off a postseason awards campaign for Carey this weekend and on Sunday it revved things up even more.
Arizona created a website for Carey to help gain national attention. It can be found at www.arizonawildcats.com/teamkadeem and includes videos, past articles and statistics. The UA also sent out a release touting its All-American running back Sunday morning.
His profile on the UA’s website has been updated and will continue to be updated with current statistics each week.
Rodriguez said back in July he’d be the one to decide when to green light a Carey campaign. The UA’s second-year coach has given his blessing after his running back has stayed out of trouble and backed up his 2012 production on the field this season.
“Ka’Deem is a freak of nature in my opinion,” Rodriguez said. “He fights for every yard.”
Carey has become the face of the program for good reason.
Some numbers to consider:
• The Canyon del Oro High School graduate leads the nation in rushing yards per game at 153.5.
• Carey has rushed for more than 100 yards in 10 straight games. If he goes over the century mark Saturday at Cal, he will establish a new school record for most consecutive 100-yard games.
• The running back now has 3,274 career yards and ranks fourth on the UA’s all-time list.
• The junior has a rushing touchdown in 14 of his last 15 games.
But Carey, who had 119 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries against the Buffaloes, doesn’t seem too concerned with the campaign.
He’ll let others worry about “Team Ka’Deem” and he’ll focus on winning games.
He didn’t care that this year he didn’t come close to his 366-yard total against the Buffs he put up last season. Instead, he’s doing what he can to help the Wildcats become a surprise contender in the Pac-12 South.
“Of course I’m not disappointed,” Carey said of not having a record-breaking day against Colorado this year. “Personally, I just play my part and my role, and everything follows. With UCLA losing, it makes us go in for that race.
“Our goal is to get to the Pac-12 championship game and we got a step closer.”
And by the way, he’s being totally serious about that.
“We’re looking at this like it’s a national championship,” Carey said. “We are going to go out there and keep fighting for that. We are in the race and we are going to keep going for it.”
On Saturday against Colorado, Carey showed he’s a man of his word. Sure, he scored four times and got his 100-plus yards, but he also showed off his pass blocking skills and newfound leadership abilities.
Quarterback B.J. Denker outgained Carey on the ground Saturday 192 to 119, but if assists were a football statistic, Carey would have had plenty against Colorado. The attention the defense was paying to Carey opened up holes for Denker, and Carey was also OK using his 5-foot-10-inch, 207-pound frame to do some blocking for his quarterback.
“I thought I was about to be the lead blocker for B.J.,” Carey said. “I love watching my teammates have a good game.”
Carey would know a thing or two about having a good game.
Trash talking starts early for Richardson cousins
It didn’t take long for cousins Shaq and Paul Richardson to engage in some trash talking during Saturday night’s game.
The UA’s senior cornerback and Colorado’s junior receiver went back and forth after Paul hauled in a catch in front of Shaq in the first quarter. Paul’s reception came on the first matchup between the two on the day.
Shaq Richardson, who had five tackles in the win, let us in on what was said.
“He kinda pushed off on me that play, so I said ‘you’re gonna push off on me all night, huh?’ ” Shaq relayed.
The referee actually had to step in between the two and separate them.
Paul Richardson had six catches for 112 yards in the first half, but finished the game with just seven catches for 132 yards. He twisted his ankle late in the game.
“We gave some safety help over the top in the second half,” Rodriguez said. “Richardson’s a really good player. He’s really fast and it’s hard to simulate that speed.”
Shaq Richardson said the two caught up on the field after the game, but the trash talking will likely continue next time they cross paths.
“He went for his yards and got his stats,” Shaq said. “We got the win, which is the big thing. He has a lot to brag about, but I can always finish it at the end by saying we won.”
• Rodriguez said after Saturday’s win that he “hoped” senior linebacker Jake Fischer would be fine after suffering an ankle injury in the second half.
The coach said Fischer was walking around fine after the game and didn’t think it would be anything major. Freshman Derrick Turituri filled in for Fischer and finished with three tackles.
• Arizona’s 670 yards of total offense Saturday were the most the program has had in a conference game and third most in school history. The UA put up 691 yards against New Mexico State in 1969 and 689 last season against South Carolina State. The Wildcats have gained 600 or more yards in a game eight times. Four of them have come with Rodriguez as coach.
• Denker was named the team’s offensive player of the game by Rodriguez and his staff on Sunday. The entire defense was recognized for its performance. Trevor Ermisch and Jake Smith shared the special teams honors. Will Parks was the “hard edge” player of the week.