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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Believe in the magic of Rich Rod

Nigel Amstock
Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez confronts the head linesman in the waning minutes of the first half over a botched call. (Nigel Amstock/CU Independent)

Arizona head coach Rich Rodriguez might as well give up the title as coach and pick up the occupation of head magician.

Rodriguez already has a card trick in place with his trio of running backs in Nick Wilson, Jared Baker and Orlando Bradford, but which back will stack up the stat sheet? That’s a question that will leave experts scratching their heads.

The triple threat run squad proves why Rodriguez is still the offensive maestro he once was many moons ago at West Virginia. His deck of running backs leaves every defensive front on its toes and could be the difference maker moving forward.

Even with the backup quarterback play from Jerrard Randall, Arizona’s offense has too many dimensions to deal with as a defense.

Wilson is the alpha dog of the bunch considering he’s the only starter of the four, but the team’s injury bug finally caught up to him.

Wilson was ruled out of Saturday’s matchup at Colorado with a foot injury despite having a quiet yet productive performance against Oregon State the week prior, with 78 yards and two touchdowns.

With the unbearable altitude in Boulder, Colorado, there wasn’t any doubt Arizona would have to win with their feet.

So with Wilson out Saturday, which Wildcats running back would come out on top? Pick a card, any card. How about two cards?

Last week, it was Orlando Bradford’s three touchdown performance to end a two game losing skid and Saturday would be Baker’s time to shine and lift Arizona to consecutive conference wins.

Baker set the tone early with a 79-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats up two scores but just when Wildcat Nation thought Arizona would be sitting comfortably, Colorado struck back in the second and third quarters behind two touchdowns from Buffaloes quarterback Sefo Liufau.

Arizona’s offense hit a wall through the middle two quarters and once the Wildcats were looking for a savior, Rodriguez revealed his second card in the form of backup quarterback Jerrard Randall.

Randall was scrutinized for not having the touch on his passes that Anu Solomon has and was blamed heavily for the back-to-back losses to open conference play. But his role Saturday was just as important as Baker’s.

Baker and Randall became a match made in heaven in the fourth quarter as the duo willed the Wildcats past Colorado.

Baker ended the night with 23 carries for 207 yards and two touchdowns while Randall completed his performance with 81 rushing yards to go along with a rushing touchdown.

With Wilson out and the passing game MIA in the second half, the two cards that Rodriguez pulled from his deck would be the cards that ended Saturday night with an awing magic trick.

The Wildcats’ starting running back is expected to return next week for their homecoming matchup against Washington State. With Baker finally finding his groove, next week’s magic could give Mike Leach’s defense fits.

Arizona’s only receiving touchdowns against the Buffs came from Baker and tight end Josh Kern. Arizona’s running game is its bread and butter and putting Wazzu’s defense on skates and coming out on top can put the Wildcats back in the passenger seat in the Pac-12 South race.

Follow Justin Spears on Twitter.

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