TUCSON, Ariz. KaDeem Carey looked up at the Arizona Stadium scoreboard and saw that he had rushed for 293 yards and four touchdowns. He turned to the camera and gave a thumbs-up and a nod.
As it turned out, he was just warming up. Carey added his second-biggest run run of the day, a 64-yard jaunt in the fourth quarter, to break the Pac-12 single-game rushing record and finish with 366 yards.
What a rush -- on a number of levels. Carey's superlative day was plenty for the Wildcats, who pulled away for a 56-31 win Saturday over visiting Colorado on homecoming in front of 51,236 fans.
Careys rushing total and school-record five touchdowns helped Arizona turn what was a competitive game early into a walk in the park. His 366 yards on 25 carries were the most by any player at an FBS school this year.
His 30 points scored were the second most by a UA player ever (Art Luppino had 32
against New Mexico State in 1954). He set a school record with 400 all-purpose yards (Luppino had 359 in 1954).
And seemingly every little kid in Arizona Stadium got hold of some item of his to take home with them as he walked to the locker room after the game.
In fact, Carey, a local product from Tucson Canyon del Oro High, said -- wink,
wink -- he woke up Saturday morning intending to break the school record for rushing yards.
Colorado, now 1-9 overall, may have been the perfect foil, fielding one of college footballs worst defenses.
I just had a great feeling and wanted to put in my head that I wanted the school record, Carey said. I didnt want to tell anybody that. But thats what it was when I woke up.
He had it by the end of the third quarter when he looked up at the big screen and saw that he'd surpassed former UA star Trung Canidates 288 yards (1998). He didnt think anything of the conference record, but he got that too, breaking the record of 357 yards set by Washington States Rueben Mayes in 1984.
When told of that record, he gave another thumbs-up. And a smile.
As Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said Carey was KaDeem once again.
Strong. Determined. Hard to stop.
He always runs hard, Rodriguez said. He runs as hungry and as angry as any back in the country.
As fast? Well, probably not. Then again, nobody's perfect.
Carey, who now has 1,385 yards for the season -- moving him into second on the school's single-season rushing list after starting the day outside the top 10 -- did get caught from behind on a few runs. And, yes, he said, hell hear about that.
Then again, when you have runs of 71 yards, 64 yards, 46 yards and 30 yards to go along with a couple of 20-yarders, youre bound to get walked down eventually, as Rodriguez said.
Everybody is going to give me grief for running out of breath, Carey said, smiling. Next week Ill show them it wont happen again, though.
On Saturday, it was about enjoying the moment. Arizona was back on top after an embarrassing blowout loss to UCLA last week and is now bowl-eligible with six wins. The Wildcats are 6-4 overall and 3-4 in the Pac-12 South.
Thats good, Rodriguez said. Im especially happy for our seniors. ... In sitting down with the seniors (last year when he got the job) everyone to a man was disappointed that everybody else was getting ready for a bowl game but they werent.
Senior receiver Dan Buckner, who had two touchdown receptions on three catches, said it feels great to be bowl-eligible, although he knows eligibility isn't a certainty of being invited to a postseason game.
Its the best time of your life, Buckner said. I love these guys. Weve been through a lot, coaching changes and things. It feels good to be bowl-eligible with two games to go.
UA faces Utah next week and hosts Arizona State the following Friday in the season finale.
The Wildcats can thank their running game for what amounted to a super Saturday. Its something they had hoped to sustain throughout the game to help make up for the absence of senior quarterback Matt Scott, who was out with a concussion. His replacement was B.J. Denker, a juco transfer who made his first Division I start and, well, made the most of it.
Rodriguez said Denker was solid in making good decisions. Denker finished 12 for 14 with two TDs (both to Buckner) and 44 rushing yards.
The junior quarterback said he there was a point at which he thought he and Carey would combine for 500 rushing yards. They finished with a combined 410, giving Arizona 438 overall, the eighth most in school history. UA finished with 574 total yards.
We knew that they were either going to let me run the ball by taking away KaDeem or let KaDeem run the ball, (but) for some reason they let him run the ball, said Denker. That may not have been the smartest thing.
Hes an All-Pac-12 back, said Colorado coach Jon Embree. Its pretty simple. I dont know where he ranks, but he, Kenjon Barner (Oregon) and Johnathan Franklin (UCLA) are all really good. He fits through tight seams and breaks arm tackles.
Said Colorado linebacker Derrick Webb: Carey was able to find our gaps and go a long way. Hes aggressive and explosive on tape and (on Saturday). He can see a gap, burst through it and then its off to the races.
Its not like many in Tucson havent seen it before. Carey rushed for 1,754 yards and 26 touchdowns as a senior at CDO.
We are proud of him, said Dustin Peace, Carey's high school coach who was on the sidelines Saturday. Just when you think hes done something great, he does something like this and sets a conference record. ...
"Were talking about (some of) the all-time greats (O.J) Simpson, (Marcus) Allen, etc.