Spotlight: Quinshad Davis
By Michael Melvin
Despite Saturday's dismal result against East Carolina in nearly all facets of the game, one offensive contributor emerged to add a glimmer of positivity.
Sophomore Quinshad Davis had the breakout performance that so many Tar Heel supporters have been waiting for, hauling in a season-high 111 yards receiving on five catches with a touchdown.
"We started out kind of slow," admitted Davis. "But in the second half, we found some holes in the defense and I was able to make some catches."
The 111 yards that Davis accumulated mark his third-best career total at Carolina, and his 56-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter also earned a career-long for distance.
"The line held up a little longer today, and I think Bryn was able to find me because of it," said Davis. "We ran a lot more crossing routes, and that helped me get inside the holes of the defense as well."
The stagnant start for the Tar Heels through the first 20 minutes of the game got a much-needed boost from Davis, but in an unusual fashion. Running back Kris Francis took a first down handoff to the short side of the field, but just as he reached the corner, he pitched the ball to Davis on a reverse. Just as Davis crossed back over the hash mark, he came to an abrupt stop as he cocked back his shoulder and threw it deep to fellow receiver T.J. Thorpe for a touchdown.
"The running back handed it to me, and T.J. sold the fake like it was a reverse," explained Davis. "He was wide open because he sold the fake so well, and I made the throw."
Recalling the moment provided a rare, but much-needed smile in the downtrodden interview room following Saturday's 55-31 shellacking. The 32-yard toss was Davis's first career touchdown pass, something worth smiling about.
"Coach said that we were going to run that play since the first week," said Davis. "Now that I think about it, it was my first ever career touchdown throw."
Davis' 56-yard touchdown reception in the final quarter was another highlight-reel worthy play, as he elevated over Pirate defensive back Josh Hawkins at the 10-yard line and tip-toed the final few yards to score Carolina's final points of the game.
"I think he did a great job of getting open today," said senior quarterback Bryn Renner. "He is a big time player, and he did a great job on that long touchdown where he had to jump up and go get the ball."
Aside from his personal performance, Davis was also able to shed light on the frustrations that faced Carolina's offense.
"We were excited when the game started, but when the first drive didn't work, it really slowed us down and killed us," admitted Davis. "We have to keep the energy level up throughout the game, and if we keep that up, we will play a whole game instead of just a half."
Carolina held possession for just 3:52 of the opening 12 minutes of play, with the two possessions totaling 43 yards and ending in a punt and an interception, respectively. Outside of the trick-play reverse pass from Davis and one sustained drive that ended in a field goal from the East Carolina four-yard line, the offense's early struggles forced the team to play catch-up for the rest of the game.
"We can't wait until the second half to start playing," said Davis. "If they score, then we have to score with them. We have to depend on ourselves rather than on the other team."
While there are bigger concerns on the horizon for the future of the 2013 season, the emergence of Davis as a primary offensive focus is a critical piece to the puzzle.