Start the talk of Ka’Deem Carey for the Heisman Trophy in 2013. That’s reality, not hyperbole because this is a site devoted to Arizona athletics.
The sophomore running back is the nation’s leading rusher after rushing for 204 yards on 26 carries in Arizona’s 34-24 victory at Utah on Saturday night. Carey rushed for more yards than Utah allowed any team to gain this season. UCLA gained 171 yards rushing against the Utes.
Carey has 1,585 rushing yards with 19 rushing touchdowns and one receiving score. He is now 17 yards from tying Trung Canidate’s school record of 1,602 yards during the 1999 season.
Senior quarterback Matt Scott returned after missing the Colorado game with a concussion. He completed 12 of 27 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. He also had 74 yards rushing on 13 carries and another touchdown.
Scott surpassed the 3,000-yard passing mark this season in the game, which means the Wildcats for the first time feature a 3,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher (Carey) and 1,000-yard receiver (Austin Hill) in one season.
Hill, a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award, has 1,119 receiving yards this season. Anthony Gimino of TucsonCitizen.com writes that Carey has gained 570 in two games after the Doak Walker Award — given to the nation’s top running back — did not include Carey among its 10 semifinalists.
Carey certainly deserves recognition for the Doak Walker Award. The reason why the Heisman is a stretch this year is because that award generally goes to a standout player on a top 10 team. Arizona is 7-4 overall and 4-4 in the Pac-12.
FIRST SEASON FOR PAC-10/PAC-12 ERA COACHES AT ARIZONA
Records are for first-year coaches at Arizona since the Pac-10 formed in 1978. Emphasis is on Pac-10 and Pac-12 era coaches. Tony Mason coached the Wildcats in 1978 and 1979 in the inaugural years of the Pac-10 after starting in 1977.
With another recruiting class for Rich Rodriguez coming in next year, and the increased reliance on Carey with Scott gone, the former CDO running back has a chance to improve upon this year’s numbers. The concern, however, is that defenses will key on Arizona’s running game if the Wildcats do not find a credible quarterback to replace Scott.
Arizona will need to make a progression from this season’s record for Carey to have a shot for the Heisman in 2013.
Rodriguez is not taking baby steps toward that progression. He is the first coach for Arizona in the Pac-10/12 era (starting in 1978) who will achieve a winning record in his first season. Dick Tomey had the previous best record of 4-4-3 in 1987.
The Wildcats are a couple of possessions away from being 9-2. The Wildcats lost to Oregon State 38-35 and at Stanford 54-48 in overtime.
The way Rodriguez and his staff have coached the Wildcats to success this season, despite a lack of depth on defense and a rash of injuries, merits Pac-12 Coach of the Year consideration.
If the season was over today, the winner of the coach of the year honor would be a competition between UCLA’s Jim Mora and Oregon State’s Mike Riley.
Mora has the Bruins at 9-2 and atop the Pac-12 South standings with a 7-1 record after replacing Rick Neuheisel.
Riley’s Beavers are 8-2 overall and they won at UCLA earlier in the season. Nobody expected Oregon State to be challenging for the Pac-12 title in November after the Beavers went 8-16 the previous two seasons.
Stanford’s David Shaw is another consideration for having the Cardinal play for a potential Pac-12 title — upsetting Oregon in the process — without Andrew Luck at quarterback.
In terms of getting the most out of less the selection must go to Rodriguez, who has played with a patchwork inexperienced defense all season because of injuries. Arizona did not start a senior on defense against Utah. In fact, tackle Willie Mobley is the lone senior out of 18 defensive players listed on the two-deep roster released by the school before the game.
Rivalry week begins now. Arizona plays ASU on the Friday after Thanksgiving, as was the ritual in the old days. First-year Arizona coaches have not lost in their first encounter against ASU in the last three games.
Arizona tied ASU 24-24 in Dick Tomey’s first year in 1987. That included the botched punt attempt by ASU in the waning seconds that was recovered by Chuck Cecil. That led to Gary Coston’s game-tying field goal.
Mike Stoops’ team defeated No. 18 ASU 34-27 in Tucson in 2004. John Mackovic’s team beat the host Sun Devils 34-21 in 2001.
The three wins reverse a trend in which nine consecutive first-year Arizona coaches lost to ASU (includes Bob Winslow, Warren Woodson, Ed Doherty, Jim LaRue, Darrell Mudra, Bob Weber, Jim Young, Tony Mason and Larry Smith).
Finally: I wonder if Arizona will break out the copper helmets again for the ASU game?
Site publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner