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Canidate reeling, but back on track

By Brian Wahlund and Bryan Rosenbaum
Arizona Daily Wildcat, September 28, 1999

Despite running on a rock-hard field with tendinitis in his knees, UA senior running back Trung Canidate put the team on his back and carried them to a win over Washington State.

Canidate rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns on a career-high 34 carries in the 30-24 win over the Cougars on Saturday.

The artificial turf at Martin Stadium was watered prior to the game to soften it up somewhat, but it still felt like Arizona was playing a game on concrete.

"I'm looking for what I'm going to call my bionic burst right now, and that's going to come around if I just keep working hard and getting treatment," Canidate said.

The treatment is for his knees, which undoubtedly received a pounding during the 34-carry effort on Saturday.

"I'm a realist, this is football and every time you go out on the field you're not going to be 100 percent," Canidate said. "I just got to dig deep and come up with the leadership this team needs."

His performance was exactly what Arizona needed. Running behind an improved offensive line which blew Cougar defenders off the ball, especially in the second half, Canidate took advantage of the big holes that were opened up for him.

Last year, his best friend and teammate Yusuf Scott left early for the NFL Draft. Scott was taken by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth-round, severely weakening the offensive line.

The big play Canidate was notorious for a year ago is still somewhat absent from the 1999 season, mainly because of this.

Against Stanford, Canidate broke a 73-yard run and exploded for a 45-yard run against the Cougars, but his average yards-per-carry is down significantly from last year, when he averaged 7.3 yards. This year, he has a respectable 5.3 yards per carry, but hasn't been able to hit the "home run," what the coaching staff calls the big runs he's had in the past.

"Well, Trung is still not healthy, but Trung carried the ball 34 times and did not have the ball out one time," head coach Dick Tomey said. "He was dead tired, but he hung onto the ball."

Even though Canidate was in pain, the Wildcats needed him to pull out the victory. With winds as high as 50 mph, passing the ball was problematic, especially since Arizona was going into the wind in the fourth quarter.

"We wanted him with the ball because he has been reliable for us over time. He's not as quick as he was last year because he's got some tendinitis, but he did everything he could do for us."

Now, with UCLA and USC suffering defeats over the weekend, the Pacific 10 Conference race has opened up. If the offensive line can open up holes like they did against Washington State for the rest of the season, and if Canidate can take the bye-week to get himself healthy, the running back of old with his long bursts for touchdowns could return this season.

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