Davis started ten games as a true freshman in 2012 and hasn’t missed a start so far this fall. The Gaffney, S.C. native (41 catches, 568 yards, 8 TD) has had multiple receptions in every game this year, including a three-game stretch in which he caught at least five balls and had one touchdown.
“He’s been solid all year, to be honest with you,” offensive coordinator Blake Anderson said following Tuesday’s practice. “A lot of what we do in terms of where the ball gets put is really dictated off how the defense plays us. There were times early where they playing us in a way where (Eric) Ebron was getting singled up.
“Here lately, they’ve been playing us in a way where Quinshad has been getting singled up. He’s productive. He’s a really good route runner. He’s really technically sound. He’s extremely competitive at the point of attack. Fade balls and one on one matchups, he’s going to win most of those in a competitive situation. He loves football.”
Davis’s desire for continued improvement and taking more reps has led to some concerns from a durability standpoint.
“He practices the same way he plays,” Anderson said. “We have to limit his reps sometimes because his body is getting beat up but he’s still wants to go. That’s what you’re looking for and for him to be just a true sophomore, that’s pretty special. It really is for him to play as well and as mature as he plays to be that young.”
UNC wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer placed Davis in the weight room to help alleviate the concern of injury and ultimately improve his overall ability to perform on the gridiron.
“The biggest thing he’s done is he’s gotten in the weight room and put himself in the position where he can stay healthy through the whole season,” Brewer said. “He had some issues injury wise and health wise that he got there and corrected by putting some muscle over joints and bones and things of that nature. He was thin as a pencil when he came in so whatever it is now is a big improvement.”
According to Davis, he now weighs 205 pounds and this increased weight gain has had an instant impact on the perimeter for the Tar Heels.
“The thing I think he’s improved on the most this year is probably not being seen that much from the naked eyes,” Anderson said. “He’s become probably our best perimeter blocker. He does a great job on the perimeter when he gets locked on a corner or safety. He takes pride in it. A lot of our biggest screens that we’ve hit this year have been because his block is right at the point of attack. If he doesn’t make it, the screen doesn’t get going.
“We’ve really been successful because he’s matched up on some backers at times and he’s really handled them. He’s a really good route runner anyway and I think that was the easy part for him. That’s what he loves to do. To really take the pride in being a really good blocker shows how much the team means to the guy.”
Davis explained the improvement stems from having a little bit more size and confidence along with giving a bit more effort in terms of blocking downfield.
“Last year downfield you wouldn’t see me blocking that much,” Davis said. “Now I’m trying to wear my dude out and just be a pain in his butt. Most of the time last year I was the guy getting the screen like at Virginia but now we’ve got some younger, faster guys like (Ryan) Switzer making plays. I’m out there blocking for him to make sure he makes plays.”
Davis has had 14 receptions and three touchdowns during UNC’s four-game win streak for the Tar Heels and has opened up more than just the passing offense with his play.
“Having confidence in your strength level really helps,” Brewer said. “These last four or five games you’ve seen that we’ve made an improvement in the run game because of our ability to block on the perimeter.”