Running Hard

The brightest spot in Arkansas' running game lately has been the play of sophomore Knile Davis, who is healthy this season and is trying to find the hole quickly and run hard.

Most young football players in Texas – and Arkansas and many other states for that matter – grow up one day hoping to play on an NFL field.

University of Arkansas sophomore tailback Knile Davis was certainly one of those and got his chance last season when his team routed Texas A&M 47-19 in the inaugural Southwest Classic at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

Davis (6-0, 220) will get that chance again this Saturday when No. 15 Arkansas (3-1) meets Texas A&M (3-1) in a 2:30 p.m. ABC nationally televised contest.

"Going down to Texas, which is my home state, is going to be a great thing for me and is really going to give us a chance to go out there and show people that we are a tough team," Davis said. "I went there last year and it was a real nice environment, a lot of fans came out. It was just a good environment and I think we are going to do good."

Davis thinks the off week and the next game being in a different and exciting venue like Cowboys Stadium is likely to lift the spirits of the Razorbacks, who know they left a win on the field against No. 1 Alabama.

"We just learned that every play is very important," Davis said. "We had a lot of mistakes that just added up. That was the reason we lost the game. I feel like we beat ourselves. I don't feel like they were the better team. But it's a ‘show me' world, so we have to go out for the rest of the season and show the world that we're a good team."

Arkansas is averaging just 103 yards rushing this season while the Razorback air attack is piling up 365 yards per outing.

"Obviously that's an aspect that we have to improve in," UA running backs coach Tim Horton said. "I think from the Georgia to the Alabama game, we did see some improvement and at times on Saturday, we ran the ball effectively."

Davis is the team's second leading rusher this season with 121 yards on 20 carries, an average of just of 6.1 per rush.

He ripped off 6 carries for 42 yards against Alabama.

"He ran the ball extremely hard," Horton said. "He blocked well and brought a lot of intensity. I thought Knile had one of his better games."

That also impressed UA head coach Bobby Petrino, who stressed last week that he plans to beef up a rushing offense.

"I was very impressed with the way Knile (Davis) ran the ball," Petrino said. "He's hitting the holes hard and blocking in the front." The Razorbacks will continue to be without injured junior Dennis Johnson, who had rushed for 81 yards on 13 carries before getting hurt in the second game of this season.

Broderick Green's 42 carries and 134 yards lead the Razorbacks while fellow sophomore Ronnie Wingo has averaged nearly 6 yards per carry with 13 carries for 81 yards.

But Wingo did not get a carry against Alabama has instead found more success in the passing game where he has 11 receptions for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns in the past two games.

Petrino is hoping that confidence in the air will translate to that on the ground for Wingo.

"I hope so," Petrino said. "He's made a lot of plays around here this short period of time he's been here. He should have the confidence, but he's been hesitating. He needs to see it and hit it."

Davis, who had 33 carries for 163 yards last season as a freshman, said he is just trying to hit the hole fast and not dance around.

"That's the biggest thing, you have to get the ball, make a decision and go right away," Davis said. "That's what the coaches want to see and what I am trying to do."

It helps that Davis, who has been injured his last three high school and college seasons, is now playing it safe.

"I have so much metal in me now that I am really am the Bionic Man," Davis said. "But that the thing about that is I feel great and I am not worried about it one bit and just running the ball hard without even thinking about that. That's a big help for what I am trying to do."

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