Auburn will compete without All-American defensive back Carlton Davis for the Peach Bowl Monday.
Tigers coach Gus Malzahn said the third-year starting cornerback will miss the game due to illness. Davis, who had 36 tackles and a team-high 11 pass breakups this season, has missed practice time this week in Atlanta, so the coaching staff made the decision to send him home Saturday.
“Has not gotten better,” Malzahn said Sunday. “[I] just felt like he would be better off there with the illness he has. As far as coming back next year, with all those guys that are considering or trying to get their draft grade status, we‘ll talk about that after the bowl game.”
Malzahn said the Tigers have enough depth in the secondary to overcome the absence of Davis.
“Javaris [Davis] is one guy that has experience. He‘s healthy. Matter of fact, all of our other guys will be ready to go. That‘s a good thing. This rest has been very good to heal some of those guys up that were banged up in the last game,” Malzahn said. “I mean, obviously Carlton is a great player. He‘s done a super job for us this year. … But the good thing is we do have some depth on the back end. We‘ve got some experience on the back end. But Carlton‘s had a bigtime year.”
UCF coach Scott Frost was surprised to hear of Davis’ absence.
“That‘s the first I‘ve heard of it, so I was taking notes under the table,” Frost said, drawing a laugh from the room. “I was hoping the list would keep growing, the four defensive linemen maybe and the running back.
“Listen, they have got good players everywhere. They have a bunch of good players in the secondary, and you know, we‘re missing a player or two, as well.”
Peach Bowl boost
UCF athletics director Danny White believes having the Knights playing on the national stage in the Peach Bowl Monday is the next big step for the program.
“We have the Fiesta Bowl thing prior to my time here at UCF, but that was kind of the first big splash on the national scene,” White told the Orlando Sentinel Saturday. “For us to be able to do it again so quickly after that, I think gives our football program some credibility.
“What we’ve been preaching since I arrived and what we’re all working towards in all of our programs is consistent success. To consistently competing for conference championships year-in and year-out and it doesn’t mean we’re going to win it every year, but if we do that I think the sky’s the limit for our program and our athletic department.”
White said this bowl trip has been fun especially seeing how the players have embraced the experience. He also believes his father, Kevin White, who is the longtime athletics director at Duke, would be proud of how much success he has quickly enjoyed at UCF.
“I’m sure he is, I hope he is. He’s excited to come and we have a lot of family in for the game,” Danny White said.
Fast is good
Both coaches were asked during Sunday’s news conference the impact of speed on their respective programs.
“It‘s better to have fast guys than slow guys. We‘re going to keep looking for them,” Frost said with a smile.
“I‘ll second that,” added Malzahn, drawing laughter from the media. “It‘s better to have fast guys than slow guys, and we‘re going to keep recruiting, too.”
“So we‘ve established that fast guys are good,” said Peach Bowl spokesman Matt Garvey.