- Can Clint Sintim take the next step?
Along with the two other returning starters at LB – Antonio Appleby and John Copper – Sintim is essentially the face of the defense and by far the biggest playmaker coming back on that side of the ball. With a new starter guaranteed at the other OLB spot and questions both on the D-line and in the secondary, Sintim’s production will go a long way toward keeping the defense a strength of this ballclub. Each of the past two seasons, Virginia has been ranked in the top 25 nationally in terms of total defense (measured in yards allowed per game), and Sintim has been a big factor.
After averaging just below 4.4 and 3.8 tackles per game as a starter in both his freshman and junior campaigns, the Woodbridge native and former SuperPrep All-American increased that figure to 5.9 last year. He has had 9+ tackles for loss (TFL) total each season and last year increased his sack total to 9 as well after posting 7 in the previous two seasons combined. Sintim’s best and most infamous game came in the regular-season finale at home against VPI last year. He had 3 sacks in the first half and totaled 10 tackles before being ejected at the end of the game for pushing Sean Glennon over after a fake kneel-down.
Can Sintim have the senior season that Ahmad Brooks, Kai Parham, and Daryl Blackstock never had? Will the loss of all two immensely-talented defensive ends, Sintim may actually have a hard time producing at the levels he did in the past, at least from his upright OLB position. Will we see more of Sintim with his hand on the ground? He has often played what is essentially a DE position in nickel, passing situation 3rd-downs, but can Groh and new DC Bob Pruett find other creative ways to get him into the opposing backfield? Let’s hope so.
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