TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 24: Runningback Keola Antolin #2 of the Arizona Wildcats rushes the football against Eddie Pleasant #11 of the Oregon Ducks during the third quarter of the college football game at Arizona Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Tucson, Arizona. The Ducks defeated the Wildcats 56-31. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Arizona football's running game statistics are a bit perplexing. First of all, they're No. 119th in the nation in yardage with a bleak-looking 62 yards per game. Is there hope?
Against Oregon on Saturday, the Wildcats' two main backs, senior Keola Antolin and freshman Ka'Deem Carey, combined for 103 yards on 25 carries, good enough for a 4.1 rushing average. Not so bad, right? While Nick Foles is blasting away any concerns about his talent, arm-strength or decision making -- he has no interceptions despite throwing 183 balls so far -- any inkling of run game impact could be huge for the Wildcats.
When the Arizona Daily Star's Ryan Finley asked Carey about a new bone formation that Arizona showed in goal line situations on Saturday, the freshman back seemed confident that the run game is only about to get better.
"I'm loving it. More blockers in there, body on body, power. I mean, we're great up front, we're good in the backfield. If we can put that together ..."
Of course, it all begins with the offensive line.Both Carey and Antolin's rushing totals have been above 4.0 yards per carry for the season. It's simply a wonder why they haven't been getting more calls. I've been a staunch critic of the playcalling, and offensive coordinator Seth Littrell has said the past few weeks it's up to him to make the calls to rush the ball.
Slowly but surely, he's starting to follow through. Now it comes down to how he complements that playcalling with Foles and the passing attack.
That bone formation could be huge for the run game -- it gives the halfbacks two extra blockers to follow through holes -- but also for play-action situations that could give Foles the opportunity to find guys like Juron Criner or Dan Buckner in single coverage for big plays.
Of course, the most interesting part of this all is Carey's role. While Antolin is definitely a great change-of-pace type of guy, it's Carey with the more potential to be a playmaker should he get enough touches to, well, make plays. Comfort's also an issue, and Carey said Monday he is, not surprisingly, getting a better feel for the speed of the college game.
A 1-3 record might look bad, but just throwing this factoid out there: The Wildcats are the only Pac-12 team that's played two conference games, while Washington State and (technically) Colorado have played none.
Said Carey of the outlook now that three top-10 teams are out of the way:
"We got a lot of games to play. I mean, this is where we start the South and this is where it matters. We've just got to buckle down and play our game."