Davis a hard cover for opponents
Just watch the film on Widener wide receiver Anthony Davis and it’s easy to see why he’s different. What he does on the football field is just different than what any other player Lycoming may run into this year can do.
Putting those differences into words, though, that’s way more difficult. Lycoming safety C.J. Arhontakis thought for a few seconds as he tried to find the right words. Warriors head coach Mike Clark did the same.
It’s easier just to say Davis is different. He’ll likely be the main concern for Lycoming when it travels to Widener on Saturday for the matchup between MAC unbeatens.
“A lot of their offense is based off of just getting him the ball and letting him do what he does,” said Arhontakis, Lycoming’s senior safety who played against Davis a year ago. “He’s just a really athletic guy. He can make cuts and make moves that some other receivers in this league might not be able to.”
He’s impressive. He showed Lycoming fans just how impressive firsthand a year ago in a matchup of MAC unbeatens at David Person Field. He caught six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, including a 34-yard pass with just 17 seconds to go to give Widener the win over Lycoming.
But it’s not just Lycoming the junior terrorizes. It’s everybody.
Even in an NCAA playoff game against perennial Division III championship contender Mount Union a year ago Davis had six catches for 106 yards. He finished the year with 64 receptions for 1,236 yards, the third-most receiving yards in a single season at Widener.
Davis was recruited by numerous Division I programs coming out of Chester High School including Pittsburgh and Temple. At 6-feet tall, 180 pounds, he was a blend of size, speed, elusiveness, quickness and strength which would have made any Division I FBS, FCS or Division II coach happy to have on their roster.
But he ended up at Mount Union and has been brilliant since arriving on campus. The junior is eighth on Widener’s all-time receiving yards list, and he’s just 8 yards from becoming only the eighth receiver in school history with 2,000 career receiving yards.
“I think he’s just more talented than a lot of the people he plays against,” Clark said. “When you watch their Mount Union game from last year, most of the guys wouldn’t have started for Mount Union – and a lot of our guys wouldn’t start for Mount Union. But Anthony Davis would play at Mount Union A lot. He’s incredibly talented.”
In Widener’s air attack offense, Davis is even more dangerous as he gets the ball in space. The offense isn’t nearly as vertical as it was a year ago when quarterback Chris Haupt set a school record for passing yards. Instead, it’s more of a focus on getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands and into his playmakers’ hands as quickly as possible.
Davis’ 32 receptions account for more than a third of Widener’s pass completions through three weeks. Fellow receivers Jermaine Quattlebaum and Adam Marucci have accounted for another third of the Pride’s pass completions.
So while Davis is the big threat in the offense, he can’t be the focus of the Lycoming defense, which currently leads the MAC in pass defense.
“We can’t just load up on him. All their receivers are talented guys,” Arhontakis said. “We can’t just forget about them, because if we forget about them then maybe Davis doesn’t have a day, but someone else has a good day.”
There’s been an emphasis on tackling during practice this week, maybe more so than usual, for Lycoming because of the general elusiveness of Widener’s playmakers. But because there’s such a pointed effort to get the playmakers operating in space, missed tackles become exacerbated.
“He can beat you as a receiver, he can beat you as a returner, and that’s when he doesn’t have a lot of help,” Clark said. “I think Anthony, more than anybody in the league, can beat you even if he doesn’t get a lot of help. He’s just a hard guy to tackle.”