The first time he touched the football this fall, No. 2 tailback Jabari Davis bolted 44 yards for a touchdown against Fresno State. He added a 36-yard run on the Vols' game-clinching drive a week later against Marshall.
By making two long runs in Tennessee's first two games, Davis nearly matched his big-play total for the 13 games he played in 2002. He's roughly 12 pounds lighter this fall and clearly a step faster than he was a year ago. That may explain why he's making almost as many big runs this year as starting tailback Cedric Houston.
''I guess so,'' Davis said with a chuckle. ''It really doesn't matter who's in there. If Ced's in there or I'm in there, when they call your number you're going to make something happen. Early in the game it's mostly Ced but when it comes down to the third or fourth quarter and they call my number, I feel I have to do something big.''
Lately, he's been doing something very big. His long runs are a major reason Tennessee is 2-0 heading into this weekend's game at Gainesville. If not for Davis' big run against Marshall, the Vols easily could've lost that game. The Thundering Herd shredded Tennessee's defense early, putting tremendous pressure on the Vol offense to keep pace. Still, Davis says he and his fellow members of the attack unit never felt they had to carry the Vol defense that day.
''The offense wasn't really looking at the defense,'' he said. ''We were looking at our offense mostly. A team like Marshall, you can't let 'em get ahead. We made some mistakes, so it's good we had a bye week before the big game in The Swamp.''