Without a doubt, Buster Davis is Florida State's leader on the defensive side of the ball. The senior middle linebacker is not only leading with his emotion and fire, he's leading by example as well as he has been one of the ACC's dominant defenders through the first four games of the season.
A one-man wrecking crew, Davis leads the Seminoles in tackles, sacks, interceptions, and forced fumbles. He has tallied 35 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks, one interception and one forced fumble, and he isn't ready to stop now. With NC State on deck, expect Davis to bring his trademark intensity on Thursday night.
"This is a very serious match-up," said Davis. "We have to take it very seriously since it is an ACC game. Pretty much we can't lose any more ACC games if we want to get to Jacksonville. It is another game.
"We have to prepare hard for it like we have been all week. Hopefully we'll come out with a win."
Generously listed at 5-foot-10, Davis lacks ideal height to play the position, but he makes up for it with intensity, toughness, and effort. Although he was considered one of the top linebackers in the country after graduating from Daytona Beach (FL) Mainland, some doubted Davis would ever see the field at talent-rich Florida State because of his size.
However, he has started 28 straight games and is now regarded as one of the nation's top linebackers.
NC State head coach Chuck Amato speaks highly of Davis, as he compared him to one of the best linebackers to ever play for the Wolfpack, Dantonio Burnette. Burnette, who played for Amato when he first came to NC State, arrived as an undersized linebacker who could end up at fullback, but after recording 144 tackles as a senior he left second only to Levar Fisher on the Wolfpack's all-time tackles list.
"Dantonio Burnette... he's just hard, tough, smart, physical and intimidating," Amato said of Davis. "He plays so daggone hard. He's been playing there for about 20 years it seems like. He's really good. He's really good.
"The last couple of years some people may not have noticed him because of [Ernie] Sims and [A.J.] Nicholson, but boy is he good. Everybody would love to have six of them like him."
Amato has had success against Florida State, that has been well-documented. He's 3-3 against the school he spent most of his coaching career, with two of the wins coming in Tallahassee.
"He and coach Andrews kind of developed the defense," said Davis. "We do some things different now that he is gone. He knows coach Andrews but that's nothing. Be we are going to come out and do what we need to do. Play big-time football."
Like NC State, Florida State is coming off a nice win, a 55-7 victory over Rice, and also had a bye week to prepare for this week's game.
"This has been a long two weeks," said Davis. "We have been practicing a lot and done a lot of good things. We had some scrimmages and practiced in a scrimmage-type atmosphere. There really is no off-week. We have been practicing hard. It is like we played on Saturday since we practiced Saturday and Sunday. We're looking forward to finally playing on Thursday."
Thursday night's game will be televised nationally on ESPN, and you can tell Davis is pumped about the opportunity to showcase his talents.
"Prime time! Prime time! It's a big game and everybody in the country is going to be watching it," he said. "There isn't anything on TV Thursday night. I don't think any big shows come on. My show is CSI Miami and that doesn't come on Thursday. It is the only show I watch. Hopefully people will be able to watch us get a big win."
NC State is hoping Amato can improve his record to 4-3 against the Seminoles. For that to happen, the Wolfpack better do a good job of blocking #7.