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October 3, 2013

Davis on pace for record season



When his brother James was leading the ACC in rushing at Clemson and setting school records, Mike Davis knew he wanted to achieve the same thing, if not do better.

Four games into his starting career, the sophomore from Lithonia, Georgia, is doing just that.

He's the Southeastern Conference's leading rusher, averaging 127 yards a game, and No. 12 nationally. A year after South Carolina finished No. 13 in the league in rushing, averaging 3.7 yards per carry as a team, Davis is averaging 7.2 yards per carry and has scored six touchdowns - three in his last game alone, narrowly missing what would have been a school-record fourth touchdown.

At 508 rushing yards, he's on pace to rush for 1,524 yards, which would give him the third-best rushing season in school history behind George Rogers, who rushed for 1,681 yards in 1979 and 1,894 yards in in Heisman Trophy-winning 1980 campaign. Third place currently is held by Marcus Lattimore, who only broke 1,000 yards once, rushing for 1,197 yards in 2010.

Davis is second in the SEC in all-purpose yards with 158.8 per game, adding 127 receiving yards to his impressive rushing total.

So, is Davis putting the sibling rivalry to bed?

"(James) was the first one to call me and tell me I was leading the SEC in rushing," Davis said. "He's very pumped up about that.

"That's something we always talked about. He wants the best for me."

He's also playing with a confidence that seems to be growing as rapidly as his rushing totals, in part because of the success he's had and in part because of his trust in an offensive line that is blocking superbly for him.

"I feel very confident," Davis said. "I trust the guys up front. The reason I have the stats I have is because of the guys up front. It's a great honor (to lead the SEC). I feel great and I'm glad to have that on my resume, but once again, it's up to the guys up front.

"I didn't expect to come out and put up numbers like this. I'm glad I have. It's a great feeling."

Don't expect his accolades to-date to go to his head, though. If anything, he's hungrier for more, and that keeps him humble.

"I'm just going to come out here and continue to work hard and put forth the effort that the coaches want," Davis said.

When asked what he has to work on in practice, he immediately had an answer.

"Everything," Davis said. "Ball handling, knowing where guys are going to be, speed, power."

That all?

"The weight room," Davis added.

One thing Davis is doing for the first time is carrying the ball extensively. He rushed 26 times against Central Florida, 21 of which came in the second half. Did he expect to carry the ball that many times?

"No," Davis said. "When Brandon went down, I knew I had to step up. But going into the game, I didn't know I'd get 26 carries.

When asked what the most times he ever carried the ball in a game at any level was, he also had an immediate answer.

"Twenty-six," Davis said. "Do I want the ball 30 times? Uh, no. If that happens, I'm all for it. I've never experienced 30 carries, so I don't know what it feels like.

"But that's up to the coaches. If they want to put the ball in my hands, then I'm all for it. Whatever our game plan is, we stick to it. If the coaches want to give me the ball five times in one half then twenty in the other, that's fine with me.

Davis said despite the number of carries, conditioning had nothing to do with his goal-line fumble at the end of the game.

"Fatigue wasn't a factor (with the fumble)," Davis said. "I was sick and feeling weak. I won't say it was fatigue. At one moment it was raining hard, then it got really, really hot. It just happened."

Davis, who said he didn't know the school record was four touchdowns in a game, does now.

"Knowing that the record is four, I'm going to be coming for it a lot," Davis said.

If Davis continues his career at the pace he's on, that won't be the only record Davis will be stamping his name on.

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