Questions about the strength of Towson's defensive front depleted by the graduation of three starters may have abounded in the preseason, but those queries appeared to be answered emphatically in the team's 33-18 defeat of Connecticut last Thursday night.
Junior defensive end Ryan Delaire made 1½ sacks and three tackles and junior defensive end Drew Cheripko registered one sack and six tackles. Sophomore defensive tackle Jon Desir posted a half sack and four tackles, and senior defensive tackle Arnold Farmer finished with two tackles as the Huskies rushed for just 81 yards and compiled 287 yards of total offense.
The play of the defensive line caught the eye of Tigers coach Rob Ambrose.
"They played tremendous team defense up front," Ambrose said during a conference call Monday organized by the Colonial Athletic Association. "It wasn't one guy doing his own thing. Each one of them played extremely well. Not good, extremely well. Arnold Farmer was a force, Jon Desir was a force. No one wanted to block those guys. When you take guys like Ryan Delaire and Drew Cheripko who just kept finding ways to disrupt the backfield, it really makes it hard for an offense to be consistent. And we were – with some great terminology – relentless up front. They did a fantastic job not just through one quarter or a series, but for four quarters. And if we play like that consistently, we're going to be pretty good."
Ambrose was especially impressed with the 6-foot-4, 244-pound Delaire, a transfer from Massachusetts who played football at Windsor High School in Bloomfield, Conn. He made 19 tackles including 2½ sacks in 2012, but may have made a statement about his upcoming season with Towson.
"Ryan Delaire was the disrupter consistently," Ambrose said. "We had a lot of tackles for loss, we had five sacks, but his presence in the backfield disrupted. We actually gave him a game ball because he disrupted them every single play."