College Football: Knile Davis to Receive Full Contact Today


Fayetteville, Ark. – For one two-hour stretch of time on Friday Razorback Nation, the Arkansas Razorback football coaching staff, and players will hold their collective breath when junior running back Knile Davis participates in the team’s mock game scrimmage.

After finishing a 2010 season complete with 1,322 rushing yards including 13 rushing scores, first-team All-SEC honors, and 2011 preseason Heisman Trophy Award talk Davis’ season came to an abrupt halt during a late August fall practice when his ankle was broken on a fluke play.

Since his injury Davis has not taken full contact in a game or team practice, meaning he has not been tackled to the ground, been at the bottom of a loose ball pile up, or been gang tackled by his teammates or an Arkansas opponent. He has also missed out on pass protection and being knocked on his butt, if possible, on a random play. All of this adds up to being out of football shape.

When players go full-speed unfortunate things can happen to those standing around the pile, near the pile, and at the bottom of the pile. Arkansas head coach John L. Smith is well aware of this fact and has done his best to stay protective of his preseason All-SEC running back. Smith has been quoted essentially saying “you get your best players to the game healthy.”

Davis took the nation and the SEC by storm half way through the 2010 season to help pace the Razorbacks to a 148.9 yard per game rushing average, good for No. 69 in the nation.

Without Davis and with a restructured offensive line Arkansas averaged 137.4 yards per game placing them in the lower half of the country with a No. 81 overall ranking. Ten plus yards a game difference may not seem like much to most but if one looks at the numbers another way that is the difference of at least one first down per game on up to three or four on third and short distances which equals more opportunities for the offense.

In two key games the offense really could have used Davis’ services during the 2011 season.

Friday’s mock scrimmage for the Hogs is set for approximately 80 plays with the first-team offense to get half of those snaps.

Smith is in a no-win situation with his handling of Davis. If Davis does not take any hits in fall camp but is injured in one of his first couple of games of the 2012 college football season the media, the Razorback football team, Razorback Nation, and perhaps even Knile Davis will look back and second guess the interim head coach’s no-contact handling of Davis in fall practices.

On the other hand if Davis has gone this long without taking any hits, has posted a 4.3 forty-yard dash time, and squatted over 600 pounds in summer workouts, then becomes injured in Friday’s mock scrimmage the weekend before the opening of the season… well, Smith maybe in a world of trouble over his decision.

After Thursday’s closed practice John L. Smith addressed the media saying, “After we get talking and watching and practicing and thinking every night, I finally came up with the deal that I’m not going to play him,” Smith said. “Then he (Davis) vetoed me.”

Great for Smith to listen to his player’s request to take live hits in practice to better prepare for the upcoming season. Bad for Smith to let his player dictate his actions as head football coach.

Furthermore Smith has dumped any blame for a potential Davis injury on Friday back onto Davis by saying “he vetoed me.” This is not the best approach for a head coach on an eight-month contract with hopes to extend that offer into the future come December or January.

Chances are Smith will pull Davis after a few carries on Friday night and not press his luck. During those few plays the balance of the 2012 season will be hanging. Meanwhile those of us outside the closed practice will be anxiously awaiting word that Davis is okay.

Will the Associated Press allow voters to recast their votes if Davis were to be injured on Friday?

The AP allowed voters to recast their votes after the Honey Badgers dismissal from LSU. The recalled voting dropped LSU from preseason No. 1 to No. 3.

The Honey Badger may not care but the Honey Badger ain’t as good as Knile Davis.

Someone please tell Razorback Nation when we can start breathing again this evening!