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With health being the primary challenge UC Davis faced in past seasons, assistant coach Isaiah Jackson is making sure his group of inside linebackers are prepared to play any position he asks them to this year.
"These guys are talented enough to play any linebacker position. I think the idea of not having any starters, and forcing those guys to learn every position, will create an added level of versatility," Jackson explained.
Bua, a fifth year senior finished with a total of 42 tackles (32 unassisted) and 4.5 sacks throughout his six games played last year, and ended the year with his best defensive performance of the season. In the Aggies’ home Causeway Classic matchup, he finished with eight solo tackles, two assisted tackles and two sacks.
Said Jackson, "His experience goes beyond what those young guys have ever been through on the field. He’s able to share his wisdom with the other guys, help them manage the peaks and valleys that take place throughout a game and keep everyone even-keeled. That’s the biggest thing," said Jackson.
The group’s other veteran, Nas Anesi, finished last season with All-Big Sky honors for the first time as an Aggie. In 10 games played last year as a redshirt freshman, he earned eight starts, collected 60 tackles (33 unassisted) and one sack for a loss of nine yards.
"From the day I first arrived, Nas has been a lead-by-example guy,” Jackson recalled, “You won’t hear him say a word at practice or in meetings, but whether he is explaining how a drill works to a young guy, or coverage on the field, he is the guy who is going to open up and show you why he is a solid leader."
Both student-athletes will play critical roles in helping the defense manage adversity, the one element Coach Jackson defined as the main factor for the group’s success this season.
"It’s being able to see a touchdown or a kickoff return and smile at it, and remain disciplined enough to make the correct calls on the following plays. It’s all about managing the highs and lows that take place throughout each game."