Davis' eye improving, status still unclear

Rough landing on turf, awkward helmet slide caused injury to star tailback, Alvarez says

MADISON—Anthony Davis' status is still uncertain for Wisconsin's game this Saturday against UNLV, Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said Monday. Davis sustained an eye injury in the second quarter of the Badgers' home opener two days ago and is still experiencing blurred vision.

"When he looks down he still has some, not as much, but a little blurred vision when he looks down," Alvarez said.

Alvarez said Davis' vision had improved since Saturday, but that he would not know anything further until Davis had an opportunity to visit a specialist.

"We'll just wait and see what happens when we talk to a specialist," Alvarez said. "He is improving, which is good."

Davis left Saturday's 34-6 win over Central Florida after going down awkwardly out of bounds at the tail end of a 21-yard run with about three-and–a-half minutes left in the second quarter. After being tended to on the field, Davis got up slowly and jogged across the field to the Badger sideline under his own power. After halftime, however, he did not return to the team's sideline.

It was initially believed Davis had either been poked in the eye or that some of the ground rubber from Camp Randall's FieldTurf had been lodged in his eye.

"It wasn't so much the pellets," Alvarez said. "We thought it was at one point, but that wasn't the main issue."

The main issue, Alvarez said, was that Davis' helmet slid awkwardly when he hit the turf. Davis initially delivered a blow to Golden Knight cornerback Travonti Johnson as he stepped out of bounds, then landed roughly against the turf as Johnson drove him out of bounds.

"It appeared as though on film when you break it down it wasn't the collision, it was more the collision and the helmet sliding when he hit the turf," Alvarez said.

Following Saturday's game, Alvarez referred to Davis' pain as "kind of like a headache." Monday, though, he said Davis did not suffer any type of head injury.

"It's his eye," he said. "It's an eye issue."

Alvarez did not have a problem with the way his star tailback finished the play that resulted in the injury.

"This is a collision sport," he said. "Unfortunately, that's what you do in this sport. I would have liked to have seen the whistle blow when he first stepped out of bounds. That probably would have saved a lot. You step out of bounds, blow the whistle and the play ends."

The play was reviewed Saturday and it was ruled that Davis stepped out of bounds one yard prior to where the officials initially spotted the ball.

Before departing, Davis ran for 78 yards and a touchdown on just 13 carries. His took his second carry around the right side for an 18-yard gain, surpassing Billy Marek as the Badgers' second leading rusher of all time in the process. Davis now has 3,781 career yards. His 32 career rushing touchdowns are fourth on Wisconsin's all-time list.

Davis missed all of five games last season and parts of four others while dealing with recurring ankle injuries. He rushed 59 times for 414 yards and four touchdowns in the Badgers' first two 2003 games, then injured his ankle on his second carry in the team's third game, a 23-5 loss to UNLV.

Wisconsin's offensive was less dynamic and consistent without Davis in the lineup last year, though reserves Dwayne Smith and Booker Stanley performed admirably. Smith earned all-Big Ten honorable mention acclaim and led the team with 165 carries, 857 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Stanley contributed 523 yards and five touchdowns, while Davis finished with 682 and seven.

The Badgers learned late in fall training camp that Smith's football career was over, due to a heart condition.

Saturday, then, Stanley carried the load after Davis went out, tallying 47 yards on 12 carries. True freshman Chris Pressley also received work, notching 22 yards on eight carries. Backup quarterback Tyler Donovan was the Badgers' second-leading rusher against UCF after picking up 64 yards on four attempts.

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