Few personnel problems on offense have been resolved since Saturday's thrashing at Texas. Starting quarterback Brett Hodges is still recuperating, the coaches are shuffling around the offensive line and running back Brynn Harvey didn't participate in contact drills on Tuesday.
What did come to fruition this weekend is the fact that the Knights have the real deal on their hands in true freshman running back Jonathan Davis.
Not many coaches would consider a 71-yard and a 3.2 yards per carry performance outstanding, but UCF head coach George O'Leary saw something special in Davis during last week's game against the Longhorns, who have the top ranked run defense in the nation.
"If you look at the Davis kid, for a true freshman, I think Texas was giving up 53 or 63 yards per game total and he had 71," said O'Leary. "He's gonna be a real good football player."
The 5'9", 195 lb. Georgia native got the starting nod after Harvey was held out of Saturday's game due to injury. Davis had only had four rushing attempts in his collegiate career during garbage time heading in the matchup against the Longhorns but he displayed the attributes that coaches crave in a running back and you can expect to see more of Davis for the rest of the season.
"He's gonna be a real good football player," said O'Leary. "He has vision, he's a tough kid that can find the crack and he just needs to see more time and I made it clear that I want both of them playing equally amount as far as touches with the ball."
Harvey has been solid for the Knights this season, averaging 3.9 yards per carry but his injury opened the door for Davis and the freshman took advantage of the situation. O'Leary said that he wants to rotate the two but Harvey might not even be ready to go this week.
"Brynn is out practicing today, he didn't have a gold (practice jersey) on," said O'Leary. "He was in a boot all last week. He tried to go Thursday and he just wasn't himself."
Davis' emergence could be a wakeup call to Harvey, who has had his moments but has also been criticized for not running hard enough. O'Leary has been trying to find a suitable backup for Harvey through the season and perhaps the lack of a player stepping up behind him made the sophomore complacent.
In high school, Davis played primarily on the defensive side of the ball and the majority of his runs came as a fullback in a triple option system. Now that he's catching on to the nuances of the position, Davis appears to be primed to push Harvey.
O'Leary had been concerned that Harvey, who has carried the ball 25 times or more in three games this season, would wear down because of rigorous workload and now it appears that won't be an issue. If Davis continues to grow and give Harvey a chance to be fresh and make the most of every run then the Knights will have a young but talented running back tandem to work with for the first time in years.
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