It was up in the air whether or not true freshman running back A.J. Davis would find playing time this season. The general belief was that the trio of backs, Qadree Ollison, Chawntez Moss, and Darrin Hall, would all get on the field. Beyond that, though, it wasn’t who the Panthers’ fourth back would be - either Davis or fellow freshman Todd Sibley.
Davis ended up getting the job and made an impact right away. Against Youngstown State, he rushed for only eight yards on four attempts but that only told part of the story. The fact that he converted two fourth down attempts and scored a touchdown gave him a pretty good day.
Since then, though, he’s been missing in action. Head coach Pat Narduzzi is so tight-lipped on injuries so it’s impossible to know if that’s been a factor. But Davis didn’t get a carry in Pitt’s next three games against Penn State, Oklahoma State, or Georgia Tech. And against Rice, he saw only two carries.
The weird thing about his lack of utilization is that the running game has really struggled. Currently, Pitt is 108th in the nation in rushing out of 129 FBS schools and averaging just over three yards per attempt. Both Ollison and Hall are getting under your yards per game and Moss is under three.
If there ever was a time to see more of Davis, it would be now. Granted, he hasn’t looked great in his limited carries. And as I’ve said in the past, I think this is more about the offensive line not opening holes than the running backs simply forgetting how to be effective. But, having burned Davis’ redshirt, the last thing Pitt should be doing is benching him for games or carrying the ball 2-3 times.
If he’s not effective, then he’s not effective. But with no one really stepping up in the running game, I hope Pitt is willing to find a few more carries for him. If nothing else, he could use the experience. I’m always against just playing a guy for that reason but if the results are going to be about the same with him or someone else, I’d at least like to see him get some more game experience.
Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.