Badgers' Davis better than ever
We're probably late to get on the bandwagon, but we like Anthony Davis to make some noise in the Heisman race. Sure, the 5-foot-8 speedster has rushed for more yards in the past two seasons than any other back in the country, but we like the way Badger offensive coordinator Brian White is using him and spicing up the UW offense these days.
Gone is the vanilla Ron Dayne scheme of strictly zone running in Madison. Of course, the Badgers still are a zone team -- and that style does require a back with great patience and vision as Davis has, but now there is more. Against West Virginia last weekend, the Badgers unveiled a host of personnel groupings and formations that kept the Mountaineer defense guessing, which can be fatal when dealing with a quick short back like Davis.
White mixed in four-wide sets with QB Jim Sorgi in the shotgun, three-wide with two backs along with two-backs, double-tight ends and one wideout. Later in the game, White also brought in huge freshman OT Joe Thomas as a tight end. And the most challenging aspect for a defense of all the variations is that White has the talent to make the Badgers diverse. The passing game now is more than just Lee Evans, who, by the way, still looks dangerous. There is Brandon Williams (7 rec., 89 yards) and wideout/TE Owen Daniels (3 for 41) to go with WRs Jonathan Orr and Darrin Charles. Huge fullback Matt Bernstein adds soft hands and deceptive speed and is a devastating lead blocker for Davis.
One other factor we love about Davis' potential Heisman run: he should roll up yards against the Badgers' favorable schedule heading into their stiffest test -- home against Ohio State on Oct. 11. Leading into that primetime showdown with the Buckeyes, UW's toughest opponent probably is Penn State (Oct.4), and the Nittany Lions just surrendered a 100-yard rushing effort against Temple.
However, the big key in all this was the play of Husker OLB Demorrio Williams. An undersized 'backer who probably is the defense's best playmaker, Williams has been turned loose from his weakside linebacker spot, even lining up in a three-point stance and overmatched Hardison. Don't be surprised if Williams rockets his way into the Butkus race.
Ironically, some had wondered how much USC would miss two-year starter Mike Pollard in the middle, but most inside the program felt Tatupu, a quicker player, probably would be an upgrade. As a true freshman at Maine in 2001, he had 67 tackles, three picks and 13 TFLs.
Credit new Cards coach Bobby Petrino for developing Shelton, who last year, ex-Cards coaches tell us, was a very upright runner. Petrino saw that and hammered the 6-3 Shelton about running with his pads lower and bulling his shoulders on impact.
"And of the Miami guys, the guy I think turns out to be the best is (DT) Teraz McCray," says one Big East coach we spoke with. "He's short, but he's quick and has a gerat motor." McCray, incidentally, got Miami's last scholarship and almost ended up someplace else too.
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