Baker fighting for a spot

With Daniel Jenkins gone, Jared Baker is fighting for carries behind Ka'Deem Carey. Read on to see how his spring has gone, what his role is now, and more.

Playing behind the nation's leading rusher can be a tough, but motivating experience for a running back and Arizona sophomore Jared Baker has learned that first hand in the early portion of his college career.

With Ka'Deem Carey piling up both yards and touchdowns a season ago, head coach Rich Rodriguez was virtually forced to keep calling plays for his young, play-making running back.

With the transfer of previous backup running back Daniel Jenkins to Washington State and the departure of experienced dual-threat quarterback Matt Scott, 2013 may be a year where Rodriguez has to rely on more than running back, even if Carey repeats his 2012 performance.

That's where Baker looks to step in and make some noise. He is serving as one of the candidates to back up Carey in the upcoming season and has played well in the spring thus far. In Saturday's scrimmage, Baker believes he played well, despite a couple of bumps along the way.

"I felt like it went pretty good," Baker said. "I kind of messed up a few plays during the last part, but the beginning was pretty good."

The running back came through with one of the biggest plays of the scrimmage with a long touchdown run. Despite the fact that it was just a scrimmage, breaking off a big touchdown run was very satisfying for the sophomore.

"It feels good when everyone is coming down to the end zone and you get so many chest bumps," Baker said. "It's a good feeling."

There are still several months of off-season practices and training ahead and Baker knows there are still areas of his game in which he must improve upon.

"Finding out where I am at and trying to get better every day," Baker said.

A season ago, Rodriguez arrived on campus and took the team by surprise with his fast-paced practices. After a year of learning how the UA head coach operates, Baker believes he and his teammates are in a better equipped now than they were at this time 12 months ago.

"We're jelling a lot more than we were last year," Baker said. "The flow feels better this time around than it did last year."

When Rodriguez first took over, there was a period of transition on the field. Certain players struggled to pick up the system he was establishing and it took a while to get everyone on the same page.

Now, a year into the Rodriguez era, those problems have decreased significantly and Baker has noticed it.

"People know where they have to be and what they have to do now," Baker said. "It's a better vibe."

As far as an individual, Baker is in better shape than a season ago. He has also progressed with his knowledge of Rodriguez's system and believes he has performed as such.

"I feel a lot better," Baker said. "I messed up all the time last year, but I am really getting the hang of it now and I am doing a lot better."

Getting to know a new coaching staff and a completely new system can be tough for any college football player. It has taken some time for Baker, but he is now practicing with an added layer of comfort.

"I feel more confident than I did last year," Baker said. "I feel like I am a better fit now."

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