On the Rebels' first scoring possession Saturday against Alabama, Enrique Davis started right, countered left and burst through a gaping hole before out-running the secondary to the sideline.
But about 20 yards from the end zone, the fleet-footed Davis slowed just a step, one step that allowed cornerback Kareem Jackson to angle in and trip him up from behind inside the ten-yard line. The run totaled 62 yards, and Ole Miss converted the scamper into points, but Davis is using the play as motivation – to improve conditioning and not let it happen again.
"Oh man, that was tough to deal with," Davis said. "It was kind of slow motion, and I was hoping the goal line would hurry up. But Saturday was still big for me. The most I have played, and the run was still a long one."
Houston Nutt chose to acknowledge the Tide defense instead of Davis, and the head coach wasn't surprised because of Alabama's team speed.
"We watched film all week. So I wasn't. That was one of the fastest defense that we'll play all year. When you study and watch Alabama against Clemson and Georgia, Arkansas and Kentucky, there are not any long runs. I was excited once we got past 10-yard mark. Very excited. So naturally I was hoping he got into the end zone, but that is what makes them so good."
Davis finished Saturday with 11 carries for 70 yards, a solid final number but lacking after the long run in the first quarter. The Hargrave product had been limited this season due to deficiencies in pass blocking and certain other elements of playing tailback besides running the football.
During the off week practices, Houston Nutt vowed that Davis was ready for reliable carries. The freshman displayed his ability to dazzle but became gassed as the game wore on.
"Yeah, I get tired, and that was just really frustrating," Davis said. "I am going to work harder, because now I have an idea of what it takes to play a full game. You think you know, but this is a whole different level than anything I have experienced before."
He didn't use it as an excuse, but Davis' concentration on the playbook and pass blocking has caused him to neglect additional conditioning work past what the entire team does at practice and workouts. A misstep that will no longer be a problem.
"I have to get out there on my own and get some extra work in," Davis said. "Sprints and speed burst exercises that can simulate game experience and help my body get into the shape it needs to be in. Tired can't happen."
Conditioned for Success
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