- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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First-year Colorado coach Mike MacIntyre has seen the film from last year's game against Arizona, and pretty much every Arizona game since then. And after taking it all in, he has come to a conclusion about Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey.
"I get a headache the more I watch him on film," MacIntyre said.
The Buffs will try to do what they can Saturday to limit their coach's cranial cramping. But no promises. After all, Carey has scorched every team he has faced.
Dating back to last year, Carey has rushed for at least 100 yards in nine straight games, the longest streak in the country. In fact, it was the Colorado game last year that started the streak. Carey rocked the Buffs to the tune of 366 yards on the ground, a Pac-12 record, to go with five rushing touchdowns. But that was just the start. Since the Wildcats and Buffs last met, Carey is averaging 191 rushing yards per game with 16 touchdowns and an average of 7.1 yards per carry over that nine-game stretch.
Want to know the really scary thing?
"I'm hungrier," Carey said. "I have to be hungrier. Last year I was playing the game just to play. Just to show talent. This year I'm playing for pride. I know teams are going to stack the box harder, and I want to be more aggressive. I want teams to know it's going to be hard to stop me this year."
The proof is in the production. While Arizona's passing attack continues to find its footing, Carey says he is seeing more eight- and nine-man boxes than he saw last year. And yet, per ESPN Stats and Info, the 5-foot-10, 207-pound junior has done most of his damage up the middle, gaining 605 of his 805 yards on runs up the gut. That leads all BCS-AQ players, despite the fact he has played only 5 games. That's 78 more yards than the next player, LSU's Jeremy Hill.
As for why Carey has only played five games instead of six, we all remember his offseason transgressions. For his actions, he was suspended the opening game of the season against Northern Arizona, an FCS team the Wildcats blanked 35-0. Chances are, we'd be talking about Carey having 10-straight games of 100 yards, not nine.
But since then Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez said Carey has worked tirelessly to restore his stained image and has been a model citizen and teammate.
"I was very OK with (the punishment)," Carey said. "I feel like I let the team down, and I had to handle it. I didn't want to, but I respect coach Rod for all the decisions he made. I was excited to get back out and play the game I love so much."
And after leading the country in rushing last year, Carey has picked up where he left off. He has at least 125 rushing yards in each of his first five games this season. Over the last 10 years, the only players to have a longer such streak to begin a season were Donald Brown (UConn, 2008) and Garrett Wolfe (2006, Northern Illinois). He leads the nation in rushing yards per game with 161 per contest.
"He is an incredible player," MacIntyre said. "Everyone knows about his ability to cut, but he is extremely tough and physical. When he doesn't have a place to go he tries to punish the guy trying to tackle him. If there is a better running back in America, I want to see him. He's the best I've seen in a long, long time."
No doubt Carey will look to tax a Colorado rush defense that ranks 10th in the Pac-12 and yields 174.5 yards per game on the ground. Like others before him, MacIntyre has to dismiss the headache and figure out a way to slow Carey down.
"We have to stay gap-conscious," MacIntyre said. "Their quarterback can run also. We've got to tackle and gang tackle. It's usually not just one guy getting him down. You've got to have one to two get him.
"... That, or maybe him spraining his ankle when he gets off the bus."
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