Arkansas running back Knile Davis stands to benefit from Arkansas’ recent hiring of Bret Bielema more than any other current player on the roster.
Davis’ performance was one of the many disappoints from the 2012 season. His lack of production on the field—and the coaching staff’s decision to let him remain the primary ball carrier until the Auburn game despite that lack of production—was a big factor in the Razorbacks’ unraveling.
There was a lot of hope for Davis coming into this season. He had over 1,300 rushing yards during in 2010. He averaged 6.5 yards per carry.
Then he injured his ankle and missed the entire 2011 season.
This season was supposed to be his return to the fold and one of the elements that the offense had in place that would help the Razorbacks contend for a National Championship.
It didn’t happen.
Davis did not break 100 yards rushing in any game this season. He averaged only 3.2 yards per carry during that time frame. He was eventually replaced by Dennis Johnson, who ended the season with 5.5 yards per carry.
What happened to Davis? Where was the player that Hogs fans watched during the 2010 season?
There are many factors and plenty of blame to go around. Arkansas’ offensive line did not give Davis adequate protection (but to be fair, Johnson had the same line and performed just fine).
Davis didn’t have an adequate coaching staff to help him get back to his old self or to get the supporting cast in physical or mental shape to get the job done.
But all of that is over.
Davis now has a new coach in Bret Bielema that specializes in the kind of football that relies on big offensive lines and a run-first offense. Bielema will more than likely bring in an offensive coordinator that subscribes to this philosophy.
This season’s offensive coordinator for the Razorbacks, Paul Petrino, was primarily a quarterback coach, and judging from the rest of the offense this season, not much else.
Davis has the physical gifts to be one of the top running backs in the SEC—he just needs the kind of coach that can develop him as a player. A coach like Bielema can get the pieces in place for Davis to be successful.
The rest will be up to Davis himself.