Sophomore receiver Danny Davis will return Saturday after his involvement in a sexual assault case resulted in his two-game suspension.
There’s a lot to unpack with the return of Davis, whether the suspension was adequate, and what his return means for the identity of the program. This has already been covered by others and I’ll be looking at it from strictly the football angle, though I understand the sensitive nature of the issue and that there is the possibility for my one-faceted analysis to be taken as callous.
What role will Davis fill?
If this were August, I would be arguing that the return of Davis to the program would slot him into the number one spot for quarterback Alex Hornibrook’s passing game.
In the last few weeks, the abilities of receivers A.J. Taylor and, to a lesser extent, Kendric Pryor, have greatly reduced my initial inclination to declare Davis the de facto first target.
Taylor showed us last week that not only can he be a legitimate top option, but he can be the only option in a decisive Badger victory. He caught five passes from Hornibrook for 134 yards and a touchdown, no other receiver caught more than a single ball.
Pryor also showed some upside in the Badger’s first outing against Western Kentucky, catching four passes for 51 yards and a touchdown, though last week New Mexico was apparently able to smother him well enough that Hornibrook only felt it necessary to target him a single time for an incompletion.
All that being said, whether Davis’ return means the Badgers are getting a top-man or not, he will certainly be a boon for the receiving corps. Davis began to turn heads toward the end of last season, and he cemented his status as a potential star with a three-touchdown performance in the Orange Bowl.
His presence will also open things up for Pryor, Taylor and tight end Jake Ferguson, as defenses will be forced to devote more attention to the sophomore receiver.
Can Taylor top last week’s career game?
Jonathan Taylor’s performance against New Mexico last week was unbelievable. He logged 253 yards and three touchdowns, good enough for one of the best box scores we will likely see from a running back this season.
The question is, can we expect the repeat performance to live up to the hype?
Well, in their two games thus far against Cal and Arizona, BYU has yet to let up more than 100 yards to a single rusher. Of course, that’s not to say they’re the stingiest run defense in the nation, and they haven’t faced a back near the caliber of Taylor, however, it will be at least a marginal step up from the weak competition of the last few weeks.
At the very least we can expect a routine game from Taylor, which probably means 175 yards and two touchdowns considering his habit of being consistently better than every defender on the field in every situation.
Saturday at 2:30, BYU comes to Camp Randall. Be there or be square.