By Patrick Klein
Arizona Daily Wildcat
If Houston takes this clutch thing any farther, people will start to think that the city by the Gulf invented the stick shift.
First it was Clutch City, the moniker given to Houston after the Rockets won the NBA Championship this summer, and now it is Lucious Davis.
Davis Ä a Houston native who was named best clutch wide receiver in the Big West Conference by The Sporting News Ä might not be a household name to people outside the Land of Enchantment, but the New Mexico State junior is out to change all that.
"The way I see it," Davis said, "if I can do a good job in the first two games this year, people will read the paper and say, 'We need to check out this kid in Las Cruces.'"
One game down, one to go. The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder burned top-ranked Florida's defense last week on national television for three touchdowns and 127 yards on five receptions. The touchdowns covered 73, 27, and seven yards respect-ively, and the 21 points effectively dropped the Gators from the top spot in the AP poll.
Davis knows that this week's contest with Arizona is probably his last chance to face a top-ranked team. He said playing against quality opponents like Florida and the Wildcats is what drives him.
"It feels great to accomplish what I did last week because it was against a top-ranked team. Those games are challenges," Davis said. "The Arizona defense looks great. That will be a real challenge for me to see how good I am."
Davis said being in the Big West hurts his ability to compare himself with well-known wideouts like Heisman Trophy candidate J.J. Stokes and Ohio State's Joey Galloway.
"(Stokes and Galloway) play for great schools and play good opponents every week," Davis said. "If I was in the conferences that they were in, that would be the only way to compare myself to them."
But numbers are numbers, and Davis' measure up quite well against his better-known peers.
Last year, Davis snared 36 passes for 766 yards Ä a 21.3 yard per catch average Ä and eight touchdowns, second in school history. He scored every 4.5 times he touched the ball last year. He has lowered that average this year with three touchdowns on five receptions.
Those numbers led The Sporting News to tab Davis as Mr. Clutch, as well as first-team all-conference, and although Davis disputes the label, he seems determined to live up to it.
"The label makes me seem like I'm the guy, the marked man, and that's a challenge," he said. "The clutch label is great but I don't really see myself as that. I've had a few good games. But I enjoy it, I joke around with my teammates about it. I tell them I'm from the Clutch City, so I have to be a clutch receiver.
"I like to go deep, but I'm a possesion type receiver, that works out better for me."
Davis knows the hype will fade unless he puts up stellar numbers. To avoid that, he put in a lot of time this summer physically prepar-ing for the season. He also engages in a strange mental practice before games.
"When I watch film I watch the different coverages, but also I watch more of the personnel the defense has," Davis said. "I visualize what they will do and I work against that. If I can visualize a guy doing something on the field, it's better for me."
Exposure against top-ranked teams is also better for Davis and the whole Big West conference, he said.
"If I do well," Davis said, "that will bring more recognition to my team and the conference, and there are a lot of good guys in our conference."
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