Inside The Game – Richmond

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Antonio Appleby has 14 tackles in two games this season.

Antonio Appleby , often overshadowed by fellow linebackers Clint Sintim (led the nation’s linebackers in sacks in 2007) and Jon Copper (led the team in tackles for two straight years), is off to a strong start in 2008. Against Southern California, he logged eight tackles and his first career interception. This past weekend, a noticeably active Appleby produced six tackles, including one tackle for loss.

Those Richmond numbers don’t seem like eye-popping numbers at first glance, but they tell an important story if Appleby can keep it up this season. After all, he had just four games all of last season where he had six or more tackles (11 at Wyoming, and 6 against Georgia Tech, N.C. State, and Wake Forest). Through two 2008 games, he’s already half way there with six or more stops in both contests.

That doesn’t even touch on the total tackles look either. Appleby had 60 total tackles in 13 games last season – with 14 stops already this season, he’s 25% of the way to that total in just two games. If he stays on that 7.0 tackles per game pace, the senior backer would finish with an impressive 91 tackles in 13 games, a number that would obliterate his career-high total of 68 in 2006.

“He’s made a lot of plays for us. He’s continued to get better so I’m just happy for him,” Sintim said. “He’s making a lot of plays and stepping it up and it’s showing so hat’s off to Appleby.”

Certainly, UVa needs all of the veteran linebackers, including Appleby, to make a lot of plays this season. That’s why Virginia coach Al Groh – who works directly with the group in practice – essentially called out the group after the USC game. He expects more out his three veteran linebackers than they showed in that contest. Sintim (7 tackles) and Copper (2 tackles, including 1 sack) drew a much better review this week from the head coach.

“All three of them kind of had their compass