In the days and hours preceding Arizona’s matchup with Colorado, the focus of the media and fans alike was set squarely on the health of quarterback Matt Scott.
Shortly after kickoff, the attention shifted from Scott—who had suffered a concussion a week earlier and was scratched in favor of B.J. Denker—to sophomore running back Ka'Deem Carey.
Carey, a Tucson native, broke both a school and conference single-game record in notching 366 rushing yards in the Wildcats' 56-31 win.
Plenty—both of the good and bad variety—was lost in the shadow of Carey’s historic performance.
Read on to see who the winners and losers were in Arizona's most recent victory.
Without quarterback Matt Scott, Rich Rodriguez needed someone to step up on offense.
Ka'Deem Carey did so in remarkable fashion.
Credited by his coach for running "hungry" and "angry," Carey exploded for an astounding 366 yards on 25 carries.
He also added five rushing touchdowns.
In addition to setting Pac-12 and Arizona single-game rushing records, Carey is now on pace to break two single-season records.
Carey averages a touch over 138 yards per contest, which puts him on track for 1,795 yards including the Wildcats' presumed bowl game. At this rate he would shatter Trung Canidate's U of A single-season rushing record by nearly 200 yards.
Now with 18 touchdowns, Carey is also on track to break Arizona's single-season rushing touchdown record of 21, held by Art Luppino.
Make no mistake, Colorado's defense is historically bad, but Arizona's sophomore back is deserving of every bit of praise he gets for this performance.
Rich Rodriguez isn't being deceitful in labeling the Wildcats' defense "razor thin."
Anthony Gimino of the Tucson Citizen sheds some light on the situation:
A split of a team’s 85 allotted scholarships would normally be about 40 or 41 each for offense and defense, with a few left over for special teams players.
At Arizona, Rodriguez is operating at about two-thirds scholarship capacity on defense.
“We are playing everybody, every healthy body we’ve got defensively,” he said.
“Some are probably playing before their time. I haven’t been in a situation as thin as we were to start the season, let alone where we are right now. We were razor-thin defensively, and now we’re past that. That’s not an excuse; I’m just telling you where we’re at.”
All things considered, defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel has done a good job. Arizona's defense, if nothing else, has been opportunistic.
Yet, allowing 31 points to a Colorado team that ranks 118th nationally in points per game (17.6) is, in short, unacceptable.
If the Wildcats are to reach their seventh or eighth win of the regular season, they would likely do so on the backs of their explosive offense.
Called on in relief of Matt Scott, junior college transfer quarterback B.J. Denker made the most of his opportunity.
Denker was, in a word, efficient.
He completed all but two passes he threw (12-of-14) while connecting on two scores. He ran for another.
Denker did get off to a poor start by fumbling his first snap.
However, he regrouped to put forth a fine performance. This bodes well for Rich Rodriguez, who will be tasked with finding a viable quarterback option next year.
Time of possession is often an irrelevant statistic when evaluating a Rich Rodriguez team.
After all, Rodriguez considers a huddle the "biggest waste of time in football."
But, sometimes the disparity is too great not to notice. In Saturday's game, Colorado had the ball for a whopping 42 minutes.
This wouldn't be a big deal if Rodriguez's team was coming up with timely turnovers and forcing some three-and-outs.
But, the Cats didn't force a single three-and-out and came away with just two turnovers.
Colorado went on three drives of 11 plays or more and two drives of 7:46 or more.
With a paper-thin defense, it's crucial to get off the field quickly whenever possible. Credit Colorado for wearing Arizona down.
Arizona AD Greg Byrne made a gamble in hiring Rich Rodriguez.
To this point, the gamble has paid off big-time.
Ten games into Rodriguez's tenure, the Cats appear bowl-bound and have been, in all but two games, very competitive.
Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen put it best at the time of the hire, praising Byrne for hiring a "$4 million dollar coach for about half the price."
Arizona being bowl-eligible with a depleted roster on defense is a testament not only to Rodriguez, but also to Byrne for having the foresight to make the hire.