Davis vs. Davis
Published 9:07 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2011
GREENVILLE — On Saturday, two of Conference USA’s best quarterbacks will enter Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium trying to sling their way to a victory and a foothold on the race to win the East Division of the conference.
Come kickoff time, East Carolina (4-4, 3-1) will be led by sensational senior signal-caller Dominique Davis, while Southern Miss (7-1, 3-1) senior quarterback Austin Davis will be pulling the trigger for the 24th-ranked Golden Eagles. While they both share the same last name and an extreme desire to win, these two orchestrators of offense have much more in common that.
Dominique Davis enters Saturday’s heavyweight bout standing at 6-3, 210 pounds, while his counter part checks in an inch shorter at 6-2, but has a weight advantage at 221 pounds.
On the field, both quarterbacks have had tremendous success and will leave with their fair share of school records. However, with four years under his belt at the same school, Austin’s legacy runs a bit deeper than Dominique’s will because he transferred to ECU from Fort Scott CC his junior season.
During his three-and-a-half year run with the Golden Eagles, Austin, a baseball player who walked on to the football team, has shattered every school passing record imaginable, which is even more impressive considering one of the names under him on those all-time lists is Brett Favre. During his tenure with the Eagles, Davis has thrown for 9,410 yards, 70 touchdowns and has accrued 10,627 yards of total offense, which are all tops in USM history.
Though Dominique has not had as much time at East Carolina, he has made the most of it. In his first year with the Pirates, Davis set single-season school records for passing yards (3,967) and touchdown passes (37), while tying Jeff Blake’s mark of five TD passes in a game on three different occasions.
In just a year-and-half, Davis has maximized his time in ECU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley’s Air Raid system by throwing for 6,309 passing yards, which is fifth on the school’s all-time list, while his 636 completions has him at No. 3, which is three behind David Garrard, and 52 shy of taking the No. 1 spot from James Pinkney. Davis also has an NCAA mark under his belt, as his 26 consecutive completions against Navy broke Aaron Rodgers’ and Tee Martin’s previous mark of 23.
Both teams run spread offenses, though with the 18th ranked ground game (215 ypg) and the 38th ranked passing attack (254 ypg), Southern Miss is way more balanced than ECU, as the Pirates’ 94 rushing yards per game places them at 112th in the country and their 312 passing yards is the 11th best average.
Head-to-head this season Dominique has been slightly more accurate as he has completed 243 of his 345 attempts (70.4 percent) for 2,342 yards, 15 scores and 10 interceptions. Austin has connected on 175 of his 274 attempts (63.9), and while his 2,014 yards are less than Dominique’s, he has more TD passes (17) and less interceptions (8).
While neither is a runner in the likes of a Michael Vick, they both have great escapability and are capable of running for a first down when the coverage takes away their throwing options.
If there is a big difference between these two quarterbacks, the ECU coaching staff is yet to find it.
“You have two very talented, athletic individuals that can not only run the ball but can throw it with accuracy and be the field general for their respective teams,” ECU defensive coordinator Brian Mitchell said. “Both of these guys are very capable and have a high amount of athleticism and you have to account for them.”
When asked what the biggest difference between the two of them is Mitchel said, “One is in Hattiesburg and one is in Greenville.”
Pirates’ offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley felt the same way.
“The (biggest difference between them) is more in the offenses,” Riley said. “But as players they are very, very similar.”
Riley said that while Dominique may be slightly faster than Austin, his counterpart is the more physical runner. As far as arm strength, Riley gave a slight edge to his own QB.
According to Riley, one area where the two differ is where they like to throw the ball.
“Austin throws the intermediate stuff really well, the deep crosses and stuff like that he really puts right on the mark,” Riley said. “Some of Dominique’s stuff is a little bit better down the sideline or down the field and outside.”
East Carolina senior cornerback Emanuel Davis has seen plenty of both quarterbacks during his four years with the Pirates, and while he acknowledged Austin’s talent, the preseason all-conference defender sided with his QB.
“They are both great leaders for their team, they got the job done and are very productive … but honestly, I think Dominique Davis is in a class of his own,” Davis said. “I don’t really think there’s any comparisons.”