He was, in short, the focal point of Wisconsin's offense, as he had been in Wisconsin's wins over West Virginia and Akron last season. On his second run of the game Saturday, an 18-yard sprint, he surpassed Billy Marek to become the school's second leading rusher of all time and is now behind only Ron Dayne.
"I thought he was having a very good day—I thought he was just getting warmed up," head coach Barry Alvarez said.
Then Davis got injured.
(AJ Maclean/Badger Nation)
"Anthony had a finger in his eye," Alvarez said. "They are evaluating it right now. It was sore, kind of like a headache and so they didn't feel like he should go and I thought that was the best (course of action)."
"I was wondering what the problem was," junior tight end Owen Daniels said on his thoughts when he saw Davis go down. "I was hoping it wasn't his ankle again but I guess he got some of that turf stuck in his eye, so I guess that's a lot better than a leg injury."
Wisconsin had plenty of reserves in place of Davis. Sophomore tailback Booker Stanley took over when Davis went down and racked up 47 yards on 12 carries. His role in the game was similar to that of last year: be a steady backup when the top tailback goes down. Without Dwayne Smith in the mix, Stanley is the first man off the bench and said he has prepared for the role of primary tailback.
"I'm mentally prepared," Stanley said. "Right now, I'm just working on becoming a big-play guy. … The difference from last year is that I've been here before so … it's second nature."
"I thought Booker really handled everything with we threw at him very well," offensive coordinator Brian White said. "I have an awful lot of confidence in Booker and we don't have to change anything with what we're doing offensively when Booker's in the game so I'm really proud of the way he performed today."
With the game clearly in Wisconsin's favor, true freshman Chris Pressley made a cameo four minutes into the fourth quarter and promptly fumbled on his very first carry. He recovered his own fumble and the three-yard loss on the play was minimal in terms of potential damage. The next time he took a handoff, he rushed for nine yards and a first down. He finished the game with 22 yards on eight carries but fumbled a second time, which UCF recovered.
"Pressley is young," Stanley said. "I think he needs reps, get used to the speed of the game and getting a lot of guys in will help out with our depth. … He's young, he has a ways to go but he's going to be a great player."
Alvarez said he would not guess when Davis would play next but said he would know more Monday.