By all measures, Maryland nose tackle A.J. Francis is having a solid season. He's matched his tackle total from a year ago (31) and is coming off arguably the most efficient day of his career.
But there's always Sunday to keep him grounded.
That's when he and fellow tackle Joe Vellano review the week that was --- and look at their tackle totals.
"We'll look at the official stats and compare who's winning," Francis said. "It's just killing me. I'm beating every other D-lineman. It's not even close. But Joe is killing me. Joe has 10 more tackles than me, 3 1/2 more sacks than me. What, 3 1/2 more tackles for loss? He is killing. He is killing me. I've got to catch up. I've got to."
If Francis wanted to rationale, he could say Vellano built nearly all of his lead (currently 41-31) with a 10-tackle day against Navy in the season opener. Vellano had two of his five sacks that day, too.
But even if Francis doesn't catch Vellano, he still wants to chase down something else --- a 50-tackle season.
"Me and Joe set big goals for ourselves," Francis said. "At the midway point of the season, he said he wanted to have 60 tackles at the end of the season and I said I wanted to have 50. To do that, we both have to have five tackles a game from here on out."
And just for the sake of clarification, he meant regular season. Nineteen tackles in four games could be tricky. In five or even six games? Francis figures that is a given.
"Oh, no," Francis said. "But I just thought about that. Bowl game, too? That's like three and a half a game. That'll be easy."