Arkansas returns multiple skill players on offense, seven defensive starters are back, and most importantly, the schedule is favorable. Back-to-back trips to a BCS bowl game seems like an attainable goal for Bobby Petrino’s Razorbacks.
And then junior running back Knile Davis went down with an injury Thursday at practice, and all those plans are on hold.
Davis was carted off the field following a leg injury – knee, ankle, nobody’s sure – and the Razorbacks have been mum on the severity of the injury. [UPDATE: Arkansas confirmed this morning that Davis is out for the year with an ankle injury.] The media was cut off from asking Razorbacks about the injury. Some Arkansas “insiders” on various websites claim Davis is done for the year – or a large portion of it – with an ankle injury. (Sensational tweets like this are making the rounds: Knile Davis’ scream was “so loud it will haunt us in our dreams.”)
I’d say Davis – who led the SEC in rushing last year – is probably the 3rd best returning back in the SEC after Trent Richardson (Alabama) and Marcus Lattimore (South Carolina). Davis is probably one of the Top 15 backs in the country. Obviously his loss would be massive to an offense that has the potential to score 40 points a game.
Davis finished last year with a flurry – 187 yards vs. Mississippi State, 152 vs. LSU and 139 vs. Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. Despite only becoming the starter mid-season, and playing on a team featuring NFL QB Ryan Mallett, Davis still managed to rush for 1,322 yards (6.5 ypc).
The Razorbacks will be 3-0 heading into Tuscaloosa to play Alabama Sept. 24. They’ll obviously need Davis to beat the Tide. The following week Arkansas plays Texas A&M at the Jerry Dome. If they lose those two games, Arkansas will have no room for error the rest of the way. The Razorbacks close the season against LSU on November 25th.