Towson Tigers defensive back Troy Jeter (6) assists cornerback Niquekko Cook (below) who wraps up Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens wide receiver Jamie Jarmon (6) during a key CAA matchup at Unitas Stadium. The Tigers blanked Delaware, 19-0.
Towson Tigers defensive back Troy Jeter (6) assists cornerback Niquekko Cook (below) who wraps up Delaware Fightin' Blue Hens wide receiver Jamie Jarmon (6) during a key CAA matchup at Unitas Stadium. The Tigers blanked Delaware, 19-0. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

Last year's Towson squad featured a pair of defensive standouts in end Ryan Delaire and cornerback Tye Smith who drew NFL scouts to practices at Johnny Unitas Stadium. But the starpower in Delaire, who landed with the Carolina Panthers, and Smith, who was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, didn't necessarily translate on the field where the defense ranked ninth out of 12 Colonial Athletic Association units in scoring and eighth against the run.

Fast-forward to 2015, and the Tigers (6-3 overall and 4-2 in the CAA) don't boast players earning national accolades. But the defense is stronger, ranking third in the conference against the run (123.2 yards per game) and pass (183.2 yards) and fourth in scoring (20.4 points).

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It's the kind of unit that coach Rob Ambrose can appreciate.

"When you look at the history of football, you look at great defenses and it's not because there's a guy," he said Monday. "It's because all 11 guys are committed to each other and doing their job. So you'll see everybody doing their job, and the play or the scheme will allow the one guy to make that play. Week after week, you're talking about another guy's name. It's not that he had an exceptional game. It's that the other 10 guys did their job. If I had to put an asterisk on a guy, [senior strong safety] Donnell Lewis is probably the leader of this, and he's really controlling what goes on back there and he's playing really solid week after week. But all 11 guys are. We're talking about them as individuals and what they contribute to the group effort. I had two defensive players go to the [NFL] Combine last year, and we won four football games and were the worst defense on fourth down in America. We don't have anybody winning awards. We just have guys that play hard for each other and play really, really well."

The defense has played a significant role in Towson's current four-game winning streak. The team's last four opponents have averaged just 10.5 points, 139.8 passing yards and 259.5 total yards. The defense surrendered an average of 31.8 points, 217.0 passing yards and 346.6 total yards in its first five contests.

Ambrose said the defense's heroics have spawned a confidence that extends throughout the entire team.

"From an offensive perspective when you feel like you need to outscore everybody you play and you need to score on every drive, there's something to be said for great defensive football and what it does for a team," he said. "There is a confidence that goes along with our team right now because we are playing really, really good defense, and it bleeds into everything we do all day."

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