Buster Davis hadn’t felt this good in weeks.
It was a strange thing to hear following Duke, considering the fact that his elbow (severe sprain) had swollen to the size of his bicep one weekend earlier. But Davis said Saturday was one of the best games he’d played since the season opener, Sept. 10.
"Saturday felt like Miami," Davis said.
"I was very focused and I knew my assignments."
Davis finished fifth on the team with six tackles, and a pass break-up. He said the injury, which he suffered in the 20-17 loss to Maryland, forced him to rely on fundamentals and execution, rather than his usual helter-skelter style of play.
"My reads were much better, I didn’t make any false steps. Overall, I had very sound technique," Davis said.
"I got back to where I was at the start of the season. I kind of fell off these past couple of games."
Davis’ numbers hadn’t slipped much since his career-game against North Carolina, Oct. 2, when he recorded 11 tackles, his first time in double digits. He tallied six tackles in each of the next two games, and five on the road at Wake Forest. However, the road trip to Maryland was twice as sour for Davis.
His team fell out of national championship contention, muddled its shot at an ACC title and a BCS berth, and when Davis boarded the plane home his chances looked dim of being able to play effectively at homecoming.
"I wasn’t making as many play," Davis said of his midseason dip.
"I felt I should have made more, but those are the kind of games that you are going to have. Certain games are not made for a linebacker no matter how good you are. Last couple of games weren’t made for the middle linebacker."
The path to recovery was kind to Davis, though. And quick, too. By midweek the swelling had reduced, and he was ready for the Blue Devils.
"Coach always says that great ones don’t sit out games for injury, just because it hurts is no reason not to play," Davis said. "When you hurt your team is when you don’t play."
The advice hit home with Davis, who revels in the success of the Seminoles defense.
He’s well aware of where his defense stands in the national rankings, second against the rush, yielding 66.2 yards per game, roughly two yards more than top-ranked Boise State. Florida State allows 2.01 yards per carry, which is less than any other team in the nation.
"One of the things Florida State’s defense is always prided on is the run defense," Davis said.