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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Column: UA running back Nick Wilson whacks Wolf Pack

during+Arizonas+35-28+win+against+Nevada+at+Arizona+Stadium+on+Saturday%2C+Sept.+13%2C+2014.+
Rebecca Marie Sasnett
during Arizona’s 35-28 win against Nevada at Arizona Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.

Arizona Football can thank true freshman running back Nick Wilson for the 35-28 victory against Nevada on Saturday. Wilson was added to the UA record books because his effort gave Arizona a 100-yard rusher in 20 consecutive football games, which ties the longest streak in college football since 1996.

“Nick plays hard,” UA head coach Rich Rodriguez said. “He’s a freshman and he’s still learning, but he plays hard. We’ll have to watch the film and see how he blocked up front, but he did some real good things.”

Running hard is one way to describe it. In his first three games, Wilson has put up astounding numbers. He has 449 rushing yards and four total touchdowns on 66 carries. In addition, Wilson averages 6.8 yards per carry with his longest 85-yard run coming against UNLV.

Many have argued that Arizona football would be at a loss without its leader in former UA running back Ka’Deem Carey. I, on the other hand, completely disagree. With a little bit more experience and coaching, Wilson very well may have earned the nickname floating around the internet — “Ka’Nick.” Although it is hard to replace any superstar, Wilson is continually motivated by his team and coaches to succeed.

“Coach [Calvin] Magee is doing a really good job guiding me along the way and taking me game-by-game,” Wilson said. “I couldn’t have done it without him. The game has started to slow down a little bit, even though it is still pretty fast-paced. I appreciate all the things everyone does for me.”

Listed at 5’10”, Wilson has become the motor behind Arizona’s fast-paced offense. It’s interesting to think that just a few weeks ago, redshirt senior Terris Jones-Grigsby and redshirt junior Jared Baker were also in the mix for the position battle, with Jones-Grigsby currently being listed as the starting running back on the depth chart.

As for now, it seems Wilson has claimed the starting running back spot. The Arizona offense is averaging 39.7 points per game, 582.7 total yards per game and has converted 80 total first downs so far this season. But will Wilson and the offense be able to continue this fire-powered offense against the top Pac-12 Conference teams?

The answer will depend mainly on Wilson and redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon, who completed 22-of-26 passes for 278 yards and three touchdowns against Nevada. When asked to describe his performance on Saturday, Solomon quickly answered, “horrible.”

Although he did have one interception, Solomon knew he could have done better. The interception came after 83 consecutive passing attempts without one. Yet, this team is tough, both mentally and physically. Rodriguez preaches to them to be fast, and the team continues to make the effort. Nonetheless, the Wildcats appear to just be getting warmed up.

Rodriguez and the Wildcats have now started 3-0 for three consecutive seasons. The last time this mark was reached was between 1973-1975 by then-UA head coach Jim Young.

However, the streak seems to mean very little to this team, as it should. With matchups against high-powered teams like UCLA and Oregon looming in the near future, Wilson will have to continue to run angry past defenders, much like Carey did in his time at Arizona.

The fact is, many will have a hard time believing that Wilson is just a freshman. Thus far, he has committed very few errors with consistent runs, averaging 149.7 yards per game. Even though it is early in the season, if “Ka’Nick” can keep up these ridiculous numbers by continuing to run hard, Arizona football is a legitimate Pac-12 threat.

—Follow Matt Wall @mwall20

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