CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Zane Zandier earned the nickname "ZZ-Stop" from teammates long before this season, but the junior linebacker is starting to settle into the name.
Through the first three games, Zandier leads the team with 25 total tackles, top-ten in the ACC. But nearly half of the junior's tackles have come at or behind the line of scrimmage, which ranks second in the country. That early success includes five tackles for loss and two sacks, both tying career-highs in just three games.
"Anytime we get called on a blitz we expect to get home to the quarterback or make some sort of play," Zandier said, "That havoc, we've been talking about it since forever now it feels like, so we have a big emphasis on it and I feel like we're doing a pretty good job.
The Pittsburgh native started eight games last season for the Wahoos, finishing with 63 total tackles. While there is still a need for improvement, co-Defensive Coordinator Kelly Poppinga says the inside linebacker has been key to the "havoc" on defense.
"Coverage is where he needs his most improvement, run defense he's made huge strides from last year, blitzing them he creates havoc and destruction," Poppinga said, "And he's one of the top guys in the country right now in just TFL's and sacks."
The Wahoos defense is tied for second in the country with 14 sacks, but Zandier believes they have not reached their ceiling yet.
"Every single day we're thinking of new stuff to do, how to deceive the offense the best we can, create havoc, so the sky is the limit for this defense," Zandier said.