Running back Justin Davis has been the forgotten man at USC with the way that Buck Allen is playing this year. But against Oregon State, fans were re-introduced to Davis, who finished the game with 82 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown and also had three catches for 30 yards and another trip to the end zone -- his first career touchdown reception.
"It felt so good," Davis said after the game. "Especially to do this in the Coli."
Coming out of Lincoln High School in Stockton, California, Davis enrolled at USC a semester early. By Fall Camp last year as a freshman, he had already rose to the backup spot on the depth chart behind then-starter Tre Madden. Davis made an immediate impact in 2013, opening the season with 74 rushing yards and a touchdown at Hawaii.
In USC’s first Pac-12 road game at Arizona State, Justin Davis ran for a career-high 122 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns. Davis and Madden were quickly forming a dynamic duo until Davis suffered a season-ending ankle injury at Notre Dame on October 19. He finished the season with 361 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Davis struggled with his rehab as he missed most of spring practice and Fall Camp as he dealt with severe pain in the ankle. With Madden and Silas Redd also dealing with injuries last season, Buck Allen got an opportunity and took full advantage of it, going from the unknown forgotten to starting running back with the veterans and Davis sidelined.
It wasn't until mid-August that Justin Davis finally got healthy and started practicing. He played in the opener against Fresno State and although his numbers weren’t great (12 carries for 30 yards), the fact that he was on the field was a positive sign for USC coaches.
With Tre Madden expected to return to practice this week and potentially play Saturday against Arizona State, will Davis fall behind him on the depth chart? The answer is no. Madden's injury allowed Davis to show the coaches he was finally 100 percent healthy, and now it's Madden who will have to show the same.
It was even a point of emphasis from the coaching staff to get Davis more touches in the Oregon State game.
"We wanted to get Justin [Davis] more involved and split carries with Buck [Allen]. Both ran well," head coach Steve Sarkisian said after Oregon State.
Davis is extremely talented and even though he is only 18 years old, he has shown that when he is healthy, he is one of the most explosive players on the team and needs to see action every game. Davis had nearly all of his 82 rushing yards on Saturday in the second half and will be a key part the rest of the season in keeping Allen fresh or filling in if Buck gets injured.