Friday, August 12, 2011

Arkansas takes a potentially devastating hit

Knile Davis, the SEC's leading returning rusher, is done for the season:
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino confirmed Friday that running back Knile Davis is expected to miss the season because of a left ankle injury.

The injury is a major blow to the preseason expectations for the Razorbacks, who were 10-3 and reached their first BCS bowl game last season.

Davis suffered the injury early in the scrimmage portion of practice on Thursday and was carted off the field without being able to put weight on his left leg.
Wow. Arkansas has been talked about by a lot of people (including me, briefly) as a team with realistic chances of winning it all this year, but losing a guy who ran for 1,322 yards last season makes that significantly less likely.

The backup options are OK but not great: Dennis Johnson (a senior) is fast and a good kick returner but has never been given more than 57 carries in a season, and junior Ronnie Wingo is a bigger guy who has more every-down-back skills but has been used more as a receiving threat thus far in his career (he has 90 career carries, about the same amount Davis had in the final three games of last year).

Despite my assertion a couple weeks ago that Davis has been a tad overrated by some people, his presence would have made things a lot easier on new QB Tyler Wilson, who's stepping into the massive hole left by Ryan Mallett. Skill-position talent is a nice thing to have. And given the unlikelihood that either Wingo or Johnson (or a combination) can replicate what Davis did last year, it'd be a good idea to scale back the Arkansas expectations. A 10-2 record that's good enough for a second straight BCS game is a reasonable goal; winning the national title probably isn't anymore.


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