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Monday, April 9, 2012
Most important player: Arizona

By Ted Miller

All players are equal, but some players are more equal than others. That's the basis of our Most Important Player series.

First off, quarterbacks are exclude to make things more interesting. It goes without saying that Arizona's Matt Scott, USC's Matt Barkley and Washington's Keith Price are their teams' most important players. Their loss would be catastrophic.

And most important doesn't necessarily have to be "best." An All-American's backup can be pretty darn good, too.

Our most important guys are players who could swing a win total one way or the other, based on their living up to expectations. Or their absence.

We start at the beginning of the alphabet.

Arizona: RB Ka'Deem Carey

2011 production: Carey was second on the Wildcats with 449 yards rushing. He averaged 4.7 yards per carry, and led the team with six rushing touchdowns. He also caught 15 passes for 203 yards -- 13.5 yards per reception -- with two scores. And he was the team's No. 1 kickoff returner.

Why Carey is so important: New coach Rich Rodriguez runs a spread-option. He likes to run the ball. A lot. He's had his best success when he has an athletic quarterback and an A-list running back, most notably quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton at West Virginia. Wildcats quarterback Matt Scott can run the ball well. The problem is quarterback depth. There is none. So every time Scott keeps the ball, everyone on Arizona's sideline will be holding his breath. What Rodriguez needs is for Carey to become a workhorse -- a 20-25 carries a game guy who also catches three or four passes a game. The 5-foot-10, 203-pound true sophomore is talented enough to become an All-Conference sort. Further, as a Tucson native, his success would juice the local fan base. The Wildcats aren't lacking depth at tailback. Daniel Jenkins is quick and solid. Kylan Butler has raised an eyebrow or two this spring. Greg Nwoko and Taimi Tutogi are bigger, fullback sorts. But none of them are guys who can take over a game. Carey has that sort of talent. RichRod needs Carey to become The Man for the Wildcats' offense, which likely will need to score a lot of points to offset a questionable defense.