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Towson defense's stout play rooted in stopping the run

Towson has scored more than 30 points in each of its first three games this season. Just as important in those three victories, however, has been the Tigers' stinginess against the run.

The Tigers are ranked fifth nationally among Football Championship Subdivision teams in rush defense, allowing just 71 yards per game. No opponent has scored a touchdown on the ground against Towson, which has given up just four scores overall.

“I think schematically, we’ve done a tremendous job,” coach Rob Ambrose said Tuesday on the Colonial Athletic Association coaches teleconference. “I think the staff has really put together a game plan week after week that has been solid and strong versus any opponent. We have the personnel, the experienced personnel to fit those schemes. And what’s probably more impressive is that, here and there, we’ve had a guy nicked, a guy go down, a guy go down, and the next guy up is the strength of the mentality that we’re a good team defense and team defense is not just the 11 guys in the field. It’s the entire defensive crew, and I could not be more proud of the preparation and how well they’re attacking offenses and not just reacting.”

That depth on defense that Ambrose referenced was tested in Saturday’s 49-7 rout of Delaware State. Sophomore outside linebacker Bryton Barr did not play due to an unspecified injury, and sophomore Walter Dunston moved from defensive back to linebacker, making two tackles in his first start of the season.

Ambrose intimated that Barr, a two-year starter and one of two defensive captains who made 74 tackles last year, will be lost for the remainder of the season because of the injury suffered in the team’s 49-7 win against Holy Cross Sept. 7.

“As it stands right now, unless there is something miraculous in the future – if somebody’s got a good set of healing hands – I don’t think we’re going to see Bryton for the rest of the year,” Ambrose said.

But Ambrose said he is not concerned about the impact of Barr’s absence on the defense.

“We move guys around, and the next man up plays extremely well,” Ambrose said. “As Bryton spoke to the team as a captain on Friday night before the game, he said, ‘One guy doesn’t make the defense, and we are a family. When things don’t go right, the next guy steps up and everything picks up where they left off.’ Saturday night was the perfect example of that. We didn’t miss a beat. Bryton’s probably a little frustrated because statistically, we might have even played a little bit better. We know it’s a game-by-game scenario, but that’s what a good defense will do. Like I said, it’s not just the 11 guys. It’s the entire defensive unit and they’re all together and they’re all on the same page. They play with intelligence and emotion, and result is pretty darn good.”

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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