Anthony Davis' absence leaves hole in offense

Wisconsin's offense anemic without star tailback in Saturday's 23-5 defeat

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The start of the UNLV game brought nothing but bad news for the Badgers. With a poor showing by Sorgi, an offside penalty, and the Rebels beginning to run circles around the Badgers, things were not looking too good.  At the 8:30 mark in the first quarter things went from bad to worse when star running back Anthony Davis down and out.             


Davis had a ten-yard carry and was stopped by UNLV free safety Joe Miklos. After the stop, Heisman hopeful Davis hobbled off the field and straight into the locker room. An ankle injury would prevent Davis from returning. Davis underwent x-rays during the game, the results of which were unknown following the game.


The Badgers needed all the help they could get against a super-charged UNLV team and the early departure of Davis put a damper on the offense for the rest of the game.  The offense was unable to score a touchdown the whole game and their miniscule five points were scored off of a safety and a field goal.


Though Davis is not the only aspect of the Badgers offense, he certainly plays an essential role. The power that he brings helps the team in scoring touchdowns, and they were not able to produce a single one against the Rebels.


Offensive coordinator Brian White didn't have the luxury of relying on Davis to produce the much-needed touchdowns.  He knows that this did not help his offense but also has faith in the players who were called in to fill in for Davis.


"I'm sure that the loss of Davis had a little bit of an impact," White said. "But by no stretch of imagination did it determine the outcome of that football game. We have players behind him capable of filling in and giving us a chance to win."


The Badgers looked to those running backs underneath Davis in hopes of getting something started.  Freshmen Booker Stanley and sophomore Dwayne Smith both rushed for a meager total of 117 yards. In a poor performance by Smith, he committed two fumbles in the first quarter. Jamal Brimmer gained control of one of the fumbles and had a 55-yard touchdown to put the Rebels up 10-0. Though the ball was slipping in Smith's hands, he was able to rush for a team-high 92 yards.


Stanley redshirted last year, but surprisingly got his number called today due to the departure of Davis.


"I got called up and it was my time to go in there and play my game," commented Stanley, "I couldn't believe it at first but I tried hard to help the team out."


Davis' shoes are definitely hard to fill and Stanley felt that he had a tough time getting the job done.


"I didn't play my game. I made a lot of mistakes, and there are a lot of things I need to work on for next week."


Besides being phenomenal runner, Davis does is an exceptional blocker out of the backfield who does an commendable job picking up blitzes. His replacements, Smith and Stanley, had a tough time with that today, contributing to the Badgers eight sacks allowed.


Even though Davis was out of the game with an injury, Lee Evans was present but barely recognizable in the game. With an unusually low two catches for 58 yards, Evans was not used as much as he could have been. If this weapon is not being utilized, and Davis is unable to play, the Badgers are obviously going to run into trouble.


After last week's stellar 200-yard plus duet from Davis and Evans one can see how key these two players are to the offense. Evans agrees that Davis is an asset to the Badger team.


"Anthony has been a cornerstone for our offense," said Evans, "When you take him out, it's big."


With his two stars not producing, Coach Alvarez had to face a tough loss to the underdog. Disappointment was his main reaction to his team's performance and he was not accepting Davis' absence as a viable excuse for Wisconsin's play.


"I was frustrated with our offense," said Alvarez, "Anthony is obviously a large part of our offense but we have some weapons and they weren't effective."


Was it too good to be true for Davis?  Rushing for 167 yards against West Virginia, and an impressive 247 yards against Akron, he had everyone's attention and was expected to continue to put up the numbers for the rest of the season. The loss of Davis for one game proved to be miserable with the disappointing upset to UNLV. If the injury sidelines him for multiple games, recuperation might be a struggle for the Badgers. In order for them to survive they will need to see big games out of the young and not as experienced Smith and Stanley, and will have to hope for a better offense in the games to come.

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