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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Carey’s role increases

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Gordon Bates
Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

Through two games, Arizona has proven its offense is completely one-dimensional. While quarterback Nick Foles leads the nation in passing with 811 yards, Arizona’s offense rushed for only 116 yards on 41 carries, yielding a 2.8 yards per carry average that’s the 16th-worst in the country.

Although the Wildcats need better blocking and more commitment to the run, head coach Mike Stoops thinks more of freshman Ka’Deem Carey could be part of the solution.

“We have to get him more touches for sure,” Stoops said of Carey. “Ka’Deem is another player that we feel is worthy of helping us become a better football team. We have to force it. He’s too good of a player. I think he can run and make some things happen for us.”

Stoops has been wary of throwing Carey into the fire with such little experience. But the combination of Carey’s massive talent, Arizona’s need for a ground attack and Keola Antolin’s ineffectiveness will result in more Carey as soon as this weekend.

“The first couple games when we kind of worked him in, he did some good things,” offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said of Carey. “He’s a guy that you want to bring along and get the ball to and hopefully this game we can do a little more, get in some different formations and get him some touches.”

Although Antolin has had virtually no room to run, he’s been able to muster 63 rushing yards on 19 carries. Without a 20-yard burst against NAU, Antolin would have 18 carries for 43 yards, a 2.4 yard per carry average.

Stoops said after the Oklahoma State loss that Antolin will undoubtedly remain the starter, but Carey’s role is set to increase.

“We have to get a playmaker in there and just give him an opportunity and just see what he can do,” Stoops said.

Although it came in mop-up duty, Carey racked up 78 yards on 15 carries through two games, leading the Wildcats in both rushing yards and yards per carry average.

“I’d grade (myself) pretty well,” Carey said of his performance thus far. “I feel like I just played my role out there, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Given Stanford’s stone-wall front seven, Carey may only be able to do so much on Saturday. The Cardinal defense allowed only 120.8 rushing yards per game and 12 rushing touchdowns last season, both second-best in the conference.

“They mix you up a lot. From a front-seven standpoint I think they probably do more than anybody else in the conference,” said quarterbacks coach Frank Scelfo. “Their front seven guys are excellent. They’re going to come at us from different angles.”

Whether it’s Carey, Antolin, or redshirt sophomore Daniel Jankins, who is expected to return from an ankle injury, the Wildcats need to find some form of a running game this weekend against the Cardinal.

Littrell said Arizona’s run-pass balance will never be a 50-50 split, and the Wildcats aren’t “trying to run the ball to set up the pass or anything.” But without any running game at all, Arizona will continue to struggle.

“Some of it’s my job as a coach, calling them more. We’re inexperienced in some areas,” Littrell said. “We’ve just got to get better at it. Fundamentally, we’ve got to work at it all around.”

Richardson can only get better

Cornerback Shaquille Richardson was put through the spin cycle against receiver Justin Blackmon last Thursday, following a sub-par performance against NAU.

But for the true sophomore, it can only go up from here.

“He’s seen the best, so he can breathe easy now and just focus on playing fundamentally sound football,” said secondary coach Ryan Walters. “Sometimes you’ve got to go through the fire to become the player you’re capable of becoming. He’s a good kid and competes hard, so I can work with that.”

Walters said Richardson, who’s been a disappointment through camp and the first two games, has looked inexperienced so far this season. The Wildcats’ secondary as a whole is giving up 288 passing yards per game, which ranks 10th in the Pac-12.

Richardson, who spent extra time working with former UA safety Cam Nelson after practice Tuesday, has been exposed more than any of his struggling teammates. But the former UCLA commit said those trials and tribulations will only help him in the long run.

“Going up against Blackmon hard every play helped me mentally because I get that experience,” he said. “Knowing my weaknesses I get to watch film and see what I have to do to be the best. Going against the best helps me learn what I’ve got to do to be the best.”

But Richardson’s been the scapegoat, and he’s in need of a bounce-back game against Stanford.

Although Richardson won’t face Blackmon and OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden again, it doesn’t get any easier with Andrew Luck and Chris Owusu, who torched the Wildcats last season for nine catches, 165 yards and a touchdown.

“(Owusu is) big, he’s fast, and he’s an experienced guy that’s played a lot of football,” Stoops said. “They know how to get him the football.”

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