Malik Davis ready to shine as Florida’s feature running back

·3 min read

Malik Davis‘ career has certainly taken quite a few twists. He burst onto the scene out of nowhere as a true freshman, finishing second on the team in rushing in 2017. He would’ve likely finished first were it not for a season-ending injury in the middle of the season.

But after that, he struggled to get back out on the field. After just three games in 2018, another injury ended his season prematurely. He’s seen quite a bit of action over the last two years, but his production has been limited.

That’s why it was at least a bit of a surprise to see the redshirt senior take the field as UF’s starting running back on Saturday night against Florida Atlantic, but he didn’t disappoint. He took 14 carries for 104 yards and a touchdown, marking the second 100-yard game of his career.

“It felt good knowing that people see the work that you’ve put in and knowing that the coaches believe in you and are putting you in situations to be successful,” Davis said after the game about being given the start.

He was just one piece of the puzzle for a massively successful UF rushing attack that went for 400 yards against the Owls, the most of the Dan Mullen era.

Davis said the team realized very early that FAU was struggling against the run and decided to exploit it.

“We just saw that they couldn’t stop us, honestly,” he said. “Everything we wanted to do, we did. For the stops that they did make, I believe we shot ourselves in the foot. We hurt ourselves at times in the game, but other than that I think that we just felt like they couldn’t stop us.”

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After almost exclusively looking for offensive success in the passing game with Kyle Trask last year, this team is expected to be much more balanced, especially with two quarterbacks rotating in and out who are dangerous with their legs.

Davis, who will likely be one of the biggest beneficiaries of this shift, alongside Dameon Pierce and Demarkcus Bowman, said that he’s excited for the schematic change.

“I’m definitely excited,” he said. “Because I’m a running back, but also because it opens up doors and opportunities for other guys. If teams know that we can run the ball a lot, it opens up plays for passes down the field.”

Davis was one of Florida’s biggest surprises in the season opener, and if he can hold on to the No. 1 running back spot and stay healthy, he should have the best season of his career in 2021.

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