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Football

Patience pays off for Avery Davis, who finds his place against New Mexico

| Saturday, September 14, 2019

Coming into Saturday’s matchup against New Mexico, junior Avery Davis had never scored a touchdown for the Irish, despite playing several different positions on both sides of the ball. Davis broke open about midway through the 2nd quarter on a touch pass from senior quarterback Ian Book. Davis took the ball 59 yards to endzone, giving the Irish (2-0) three touchdowns on the day and opening up a 21-0 lead over the Lobos (1-1).

Davis was originally recruited as a four-star dual-threat quarterback. However, during his freshman season he was one of ten scholarship freshman who spent the season on the scout team and did not see the field.

Realizing the vast array of talent the Irish had at the quarterback position, Davis switched to the running back position in a bid to earn more playing time. With Dexter Williams in the backfield last season, Davis did not see a ton of playing time, but he made his mark with the coaching staff, proving that he could be trusted with the ball in his hands.

Davis did not put up jaw-dropping numbers last year, but he recorded a career high of 43 yards against Wake Forest. Davis also proved to the staff that not only could he throw, run and defend on the ball, but he could catch it as well — in that same game against Wake Forest he recorded a career-high 15 receiving yards.

With the loss of Williams to the Green Bay Packers this off-season, the lack of depth at the running back position was certainly a concern for the Irish. The Irish did have plenty of running backs they could use to back up Tony Jones Jr, but none of them could power the ball through the defensive line quite like Dexter Williams could. In an effort to provide support on the other side of the ball the Irish coaching staff moved Davis to the cornerback position, but decided to move him back as a running back/receiver hybrid.

Head coach Brian Kelly spoke on Davis’ performance and what it meant for the Irish.

“I thought Avery Davis’s electric run — who we incidentally gave the game ball to, for him being so humble as a player and unselfish to flip from quarterback to running back to defense and back to the offensive side of the ball — and come up big with an electric run, that really got the entire team and the stadium into it,” Kelly said.

Despite only getting one touch throughout the game Davis proved that he is speedy and athletic enough to be a strong contributor at the running back position or even as a wide receiver, as he busted through the Lobos defensive line, albeit with good blocking, finding the end zone quickly.

Wide receiver Chase Claypool also chimed in on how proud he was of his teammate.

“Super exciting — I am so happy for that guy,” he said. “He is really good. I was smiling the whole way, there probably wasn’t a minute of that touchdown I wasn’t smiling, so super happy for him and how everything worked out. … It really opens up our offense [to have a player like him], and it gives the opponent’s defense something to look after so anytime you can put something on film like that it is good.” 

Quarterback Ian Book also made note of his teammate’s performance.

“He had to learn some of the plays and that, but he’s really athletic,” Book said. “You saw that tonight. Someone, you might switch their position, you might think it’s going to be a bigger issue than it was with him.

“Shows the type of player he is and where he’s at mentally, and he’s ready to go. Nothing better than to see him get that run tonight. I’m excited for him, and I know he was, too. I like to say he belongs on offense. That’s what we like, and we’ll keep him there.”

Davis has proven to the coaching staff that he can play football at whatever position he pleases, but it appears he just so pleases to play in the backfield behind his quarterback Ian Book.

With a tough matchup on the road next week against Georgia, look for Davis to get some more touches, as Kelly assured that tonight was just the tip of the iceberg.

“[His playbook options were] bigger than what we featured today,“ Kelly said. “We wanted to get him involved a little bit today, and we didn’t want to show a whole lot today. So he’s a smart kid, played high school football at a very good program, knows the game well.

“Was able to retain most of our offense. Quite frankly, we wanted to be able to lean on [sophomore running back] C’Bo [Flemister] a little bit more today, [freshman] Kyren [Williams] a little bit more today, and he was going to get some scripted touches more than having the entire offensive playbook at his disposal.”

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