As everyone knows, Knile Davis went down Thursday with a season ending ankle injury. It’s a blow to the Razorbacks, but it’s a huge blow to Knile. This isn’t his first major injury. He missed most of his junior year of high school with a broken collarbone. He missed all but the first two games of his senior season with a broken ankle. He missed his first spring practice due to an injury to the same ankle. He also broke his collarbone in the 2010 spring game.
It’s a sign of his work ethic and heart to keep coming back time and time again.
Where does this leave the Hogs? It depends on whether your glass is half full or half empty.
We basically had no running game during the first few games of 2010 while “loaded” at running back. Going into the season, we all saw Davis, Ronnie Wingo, Broderick Green, and Dennis Johnson on the roster and the only question was who was going to win the job and showcase his talents. Nobody stepped forward until Davis took the job with a few games already in the books.
Is 2011 going to be a repeat of the first games of 2010? Two of last year’s suspects are there in Wingo and Johnson. Green’s out for the year with an injury of his own. Replace Green and Davis of last year with Kody Walker and Kiero Small this year. Both of them are first year players, which doesn’t exactly make me believe they can become the complete player Davis ended up being in 2010. We could be in real trouble if any others go down.
Oh yeah, our offensive line lost a ton of experience. The Mayans were off by a year…we’re doomed.
Petrino’s been in this situation before. In 2006 at Louisville, he had Heisman candidate Michael Bush as the featured back. In the first game of the season against Kentucky, Bush ended his year with a broken leg. Much fan hand wringing and national media coverage ensued. Louisville went on to finish the year with 2,409 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns, good enough for 12th best rushing offense in the NCAA.
Who filled in for Bush?
- Kolby Smith – senior running back – 154 carries, 862 net yards, 5.60 per carry, seven touchdowns.
- George Stripling – sophomore running back – 81 carries, 459 net yards, 5.67 per carry, five touchdowns.
- Anthony Allen – freshman running back – 96 carries, 406 net yards, 4.22 per carry, thirteen touchdowns.
- Brock Bolen – sophomore fullback – 48 carries, 296 net yards, 6.16 per carry, two touchdowns.
The total for those four guys was 379 carries, 2023 net yards, 5.33 per carry, twenty seven touchdowns.
Who’s going to fill in for Davis?
- Ronnie Wingo – junior running back – 90 career carries, 572 yards, 6.4 per carry, four touchdowns.
- Dennis Johnson – senior running back – 102 career carries, 609 yards, 5.97 per carry, two touchdowns.
- Kody Walker – true freshman
- Kiero Small – junior fullback (juco)
Me being a half full guy, I can absolutely see Wingo or Johnson getting 862 yards with the other getting 459, or more if they split 230 carries between them. Both of them have a higher per carry average than the Louisville running backs did. In the SEC.
I have no idea what Walker might be capable of, but the coaches are high on his abilities even as a true freshman. Kiero Small has been blowing up at practice blocking, carrying, and receiving out of the backfield. To me, our four can match Louisville’s four. Throw in Wilson or Mitchell carrying the ball way more than Mallett did as well.
And what about the offensive line?
I dusted off a corner of the internet to look at the 2006 Louisville offensive line so I could compare it to this year’s Razorback offensive line. Here’s what I found.
|OT||Arkansas. Freeman has way more experience.|
|OG||Arkansas. Cook has way more experience.|
Pretty close, with Arkansas getting the edge, in my opinion. Bottom line is Louisville didn’t have a line that was dramatically more experienced than Arkansas has this year.
It’s for sure a blow to the team in talent and psyche to be sure. I firmly believe that the guys below Davis on the depth chart can measure up to Louisville’s 2006 running backs as far as production goes. They have the talent, but more than that, they have the same offensive genius on the sideline that can adapt the playcalling to fit the staff available. Louisville didn’t miss a beat without Bush. In fact, they beat #15 Miami, #3 WVU, Kentucky (like a dog), KSU, lost to #14 Rutgers, and beat #15 Wake in the Orange Bowl…all with players that were recruited for a Conference USA schedule (thanks to Rob Birch for that nugget).
Davis’ injury is sure a big dark cloud on a beautiful Friday…but it’s not the end of the good season ahead. No matter what the talking heads say.
Chris Bahn talked to Louisville’s leading rusher from that year, Kolby Smith, and wrote an article about it. Ironically, Smith was an undersized back, as far as Petrino goes, and also wore #33.
Give your two cents in the thread on the board.