After running for 204 yards against the Utah Utes last season, Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey knows the Utes will be after a little redemption when the teams meet Saturday in Tucson.
He is fine with that prospect.
“I know they are definitely going to be ready for me,” he said with a laugh. “But I’m getting ready for them too.”
Carey is accustomed to being a marked man, as he has followed a terrific sophomore season with a another great start this year.
The 5-foot-10, 196-pound Carey ranks fourth nationally, averaging 142.3 yards per game.
The only thing that has stopped Carey this season is himself. The back was suspended for Arizona’s opener against NAU after some off-the-field troubles.
He faced misdemeanor assault and disorderly conduct charges from a domestic violence incident with his ex-girlfriend. The charges were later dropped after the two reconciled, according to media reports.
Carey was also removed from an Arizona basketball game in January after a confrontation with event staff and police.
Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said Carey has had a good attitude and work ethic since the suspension.
“I do think it made him hungry and appreciate the opportunity he had,” he said. “He has been consistent in practice.”
Carey said he felt he let his team down by being sidelined for the opener and has been intent on helping the Wildcats win ever since.
However, as good as he has been, the Wildcats enter Saturday’s game on a two-game slide after losing to Washington 31-13 and to USC 38-31.
Carey said he felt the Wildcats are in a good place mentally, having had one of their better practices on Tuesday.
“We want to win,” he said. “Instead of hanging our heads down after losses, we are working hard and see the bigger picture and we are working hard.”
Carey credited his offensive line for opening big gaps for him last year against the Utes. He hopes the Wildcats can do it again on Saturday.
“Their defense is big up front and the linebacker positions and secondary are solid,” he said. “Overall they have a good team, but they have gaps and places where we are going to try to beat them.”
Few have been successful doing so this year.
The Utes pride themselves on their run defense, with the only back to earn 100 yards or more this season being Stanford’s Tyler Gaffney, who had 108 yards on 16 carries.
That Carey burned them for as many as he did last year still bugs the Utes.
“A lot of guys may have overlooked him and he definitely showed us up,” defensive end Nate Orchard said. “We were unprepared and we will definitely be more prepared this time.”
The Utes rank third in the Pac-12 and 31st nationally, giving up only 133.7 yards a game.
If the Utes can contain Carey, they stand a good chance of winning Saturday. If they don’t, “we are in trouble,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.
Defensive end Trevor Reilly said the Utes have to make sure they wrap up Carey when they get to him. That is something they didn’t do last year.
“Missed tackles counted for a lot of his yards,” he said. “When we are there, we have to make tackles.”
If they don’t, it could be another long night for the Utes in the Arizona desert.
Ka’Deem Carey in 2013
UNLV • 16 carries, 171 yards, 2 touchdowns
UTSA • 27 carries, 128 yards, 2 touchdowns
Washington • 30 carries, 132 yards, 1 touchdown
USC • 21 carries, 138 yards
Utah at Arizona
O Saturday, 7 p.m.
TV • Pac-12 Network