Talent Pool

<b> Buster Davis</b> realizes Florida State's talent pool at linebacker runs deep. Very deep. He looks to his left and sees <b> Kendyll Pope, A.J. Nicholson</b> and <b> Ernie Sims.</b> He looks to his right and sees <b> Michael Boulware, Ray Piquion </b> and <b> Marcello Church.</b> In front of him he sees <b> Allen Augustin</b> and <b> Sam McGrew.</b> Include Davis in the mix and what do you have?

A talent-laded FSU llinebacking unit that combines strength with speed, power with finesse, totaling 210 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and six sacks heading into Saturday's home game against improved Wake Forest.

The starters -- Boulware, Pope and Augustin -- rank among the defensive unit's top six tacklers, with Boulware and Augustin leading the hit parade. In fact, Boulware and Augustin were honored by the Atlantic Coast Conference this week for their efforts in last Saturday's pivotal win at Virginia.

Even so, some believe the reserves, specifically Nicholson, Sims and Davis, boast better all-around talent than the Seminoles' starters.

Nicholson, in fact, will make his second career start Saturday in place of Pope, who injured his right knee in practice earlier this week (not same knee he injured against Georgia Tech earlier this season).

"We are very deep," Davis said and smiled.

"We are three deep at every position. Everyone can play, so you just have to wait your turn. You get in the game and make the plays. This defense is going to take the team to another level. We are not giving up many points. It's a real solid defense."

Davis and the Seminoles (6-1) are expected to be tested against the Deacons' flexbone offense and their misdirection.

Wake Forest, which leads the ACC with 241.2 yards rushing per game, threw just four times while rushing for a season-high 256 yards against Duke. Tailback Chris Barclay rushed for 163 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-13 victory.

Davis, meanwhile, is expected to see spot duty behind Augustin and McGrew in the middle. He also contributes on special teams. Davis says he has learned the meaning of patience while at FSU. He also has learned the inner workings of being a middle linebacker.

"My playing time… you come to Florida State, you have to wait your turn," said Davis, who became disgruntled early last season and considered transferring.

"When you get on the field, you just have to make the plays and do your job -- more plays will come to you. I am working for this year, but also working for next year. Our middle linebacker position is not like a WILL, it's a lot of thinking, a lot of gap control. The WILL is more of a free guy. I've been learning that, learning how to make plays within the defense.

"I think middle linebacker is a little restricted right now. The MIKE is a little bit more freer. Still, it doesn't matter where I play.

"I like the middle but the WILL, like I said, is kind of the free player. Hopefully I can expand the defense -- a different brand we haven't seen in awhile. That's all I am looking for, giving it a different look at middle linebacker. A shorter guy, but the more speed guy, quicker guy, strength and stuff like that."

Davis, one of the team's hardest workers, says he keeps an eye on the veterans and learns from their experience. He stressed there's no animosity, and shouldn't be -- the talent pool is simply too deep.

"The seniors are going to play. They have to play," Davis said.

"They know the system. It's a process and you become part of the process. When you become part of that process, you flourish and become a better player. We are all waiting our turn. Between myself, Ernie and A.J., we have to be patient. We are doing alright. I will be a sophomore (next year) and, with us, we will bring a lot to the table. It's going to be a different brand of linebacker than you've been used to seeing here."


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