The Quiet Assassin

Anthony Davis makes himself heard on the field; and displays his perfectionist nature off it.

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Prior to the season, at Wisconsin's media day, Anthony Davis was asked if, considering the plethora of offensive talent the Badgers possessed, he thought his role on the team could diminish.

 

In Davis's typically placid manner, he responded that how big his role was really did not concern him. He wanted to win and he would help the team in whatever way he was asked.

 

Two games into the season, it is clear that Wisconsin's offense, though multi-faceted, starts with Davis, who has carried the ball 59 times for 414 yards and four touchdowns. He is now a sure-fire favorite for the Heisman Trophy. This week he was dubbed the top candidate in ESPN.com's weekly experts poll.

 

Still, there is Davis, stoic as always. In Wisconsin's weight room (where the assorted media congregate in our quest for soundbites) following last week's victory over Akron, Davis sat, with a pensive look on his face, and offered criticism of his performance.

 

"Right now I'm kind of disappointed that I made some mental errors," Davis said.

 

Davis had just run for 247 yards on 29 carries. He had scored three first half touchdowns and put forth a positively dominating effort. Yet, the first words from Davis's mouth Saturday, after the game, were "mental errors" and "need improvement."

 

Davis, who acknowledged that he was striving for the elusive perfect game, has likely left the respective defenses of West Virginia and Akron wishing he could manage a few more errors. Davis has shown a full repertoire of skills this season—an incredibly quick burst, great vision to find seams, the strength to break tackles, and breakaway speed.

 

"I'm going to tell you now," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said following the Akron game. "Anthony is playing as good as any… we have been around a lot of good backs. I don't know if we have ever had one as good as Anthony is playing right now."

 

"That is an honor to have him say something like that," Davis said. "Hopefully I can continue to play at that high level."

 

"He is a really powerful runner," offensive coordinator Brian White said. "He changes angles on defensive backs. He creates a lot of speed on the field with the discipline that he runs with. We can't block all the guys on defense. Our quarterback is not going to block anybody. Anthony is carrying the ball, so the most guys we can get a hat on is all but two or three guys. Anthony handles those players with the discipline he runs with. He hits his landmarks and then he trusts his speed and acceleration."

 

Against West Virginia, Davis also flashed the receiving skills that were on display throughout fall camp practices. In addition, Davis is an above average pass blocker from the tailback position.

 

If there is anything that has not gone according to plan, however, it is that Wisconsin would prefer to cut Davis's workload a bit, with Dwayne Smith picking up additional carries.

 

"We would like to keep (Davis) in a 20 to 25 carry range," White said.

 

Not that Davis cannot handle a heavy load. In his third season as Wisconsin's featured back, Davis has proven time and again that he is an exceptionally durable, exceptionally fine-tuned athlete.

 

Yet, by his standards, Davis may never achieve the elusive perfect game. He could, however, very well find himself honored in bronze at the end of this season.


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