Boston College Preview 2006 - Defense
Boston College Eagles
Posted Jul 31, 2006

Boston College Eagles Preview 2006 - Boston College Defense

What you need to know ... The defense has been phenomenal over the last few years going from allowing 17 points per game in 2004 to giving up a mere 15.92 last year while finishing fifth in the nation in run defense and 16th in scoring defense. There are holes to fill, but the end product should be fine led by a linebacking corps with several good options to replace Ricky Brown and Ray Henderson, and a veteran secondary that was great last season. The concern is on the line after losing star end Mathias Kiwanuka, but there's plenty of size inside to continue to be great against the run.

Returning Leaders
Tackles DeJuan Tribble, 57
Sacks: Nick Larkin, 6
Interceptions: Ryan Glasper, 2

Star of the defense: Junior LB Brian Toal
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore DE Jim Ramella
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore DT Ron Brace
Best pro prospect: Toal
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Toal, 2) FS Jamie Silva, 3) CB DeJuan Tribble
Strength of the defense: Secondary
Weakness of the defense:
Defensive end

Defensive Line
The D line, which led the way to the nation's fifth best run defense, needs some retooling after losing star end Mathias Kiwanuka and tough tackle Al Washington. Size isn't a problem in the middle with the return of 337-pound B.J. Raji along with new starter 343-pound Ron Brace and 316-pound Justin Bell. Getting into the backfield will be the main focus with Nick Larkin having to prove he's not just a number two man on the other side of Kiwanuka. Jim Ramella needs to rise as a steady pass rusher.
The key to the unit: Keep the production going. Finishing 13th in the nation in sacks and fifth in run defense will be too much to ask for, but the line can't slide too much.

Defensive Line Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- DE Jim Ramella, Soph. - 15 tackles, 1 sack, 3 TFL
Ramella turned into a surprising performer as a true freshman showing good promise on the outside in a reserve role. He's a tall, quick pass rusher who'll have to stake a claim to a spot after missing time this spring recovering from surgery.

- DT Ron Brace, Soph. - 11 tackles, 1 TFL
Brace brings some big-time size to the middle. At 6-3 and 343 pounds, he's a big tackle who should be even quicker after dropping 20 pounds over the last year. His job will be as a run stopper; any sacks will purely come from being at the right place at the right time.

- DT B.J. Raii, Jr. - 27 tackles, 1.5 sack, 6.5 TFL
Raji had a great year on the inside growing into a reliable rock against the run. With his experience, he has to be a star in the middle until Ron Brace can prove to be consistent. He's more than quick enough to make several big plays in the backfield and grow into an All-ACC caliber performer.

- DE Nick Larkin, Jr. - 38 tackles, 6 sacks, 8.5 TFL, 3 broken up passes
Was Larkin just the beneficiary of all the attention paid to Mathis Kiwanuka on the other side, or was he really that good a pass rusher? A little of both. The 6-4, 252-pound junior has to handle all the focus as the team's most experienced end and has to try to replace the leadership left by Kiwanuka.

Top Backups
- DT Keith Willis, Soph. - 20 tackles, 1 sack, 5 TFL
At 266-pounds, Willis is a much smaller right tackle option than the 337-pound B.J. Rali. He had a decent first season on the inside showing the ability to hold up well against the run while also turning into a decent interior pass rusher. He has the quickness to play end if needed.
- DE Austin Giles, RFr.
Able to play inside or out, the 6-3, 283-pound Giles is forty pounds bigger than Jim Ramella on the left side. He's still very raw and still needs time, but he's an athletic big man.
- DT Jerry Willette, Soph. - 2 tackles, 1 broken up pass
The high school all star has tight end athleticism in the body of a big end. He's 6-5 and 261 pounds with the potential to be a top all-around tackle behind Ron Brace at left tackle.

It's never good to lose the leadership and production of Ray Henderson and Ricky Brown, but the linebacking corps should be more than fine with the return of several producers with speed waiting to be unleashed in more prominent roles. Brian Toal is the star of the show as the only returning starter, but Tyronne Pruitt on the outside and Jolonn Dunbarr in the middle should quickly play like the veterans they are. Sophomores Kevin Akins and Robert Francois are fast options on the outside who'll be big-time producers.
The key to the unit: Hope for all the steady backups of last year can turn into stars now that they have more responsibility.
Linebacker Rating: 7.5

Projected Starters
- Tyronne Pruitt, Jr. - 37 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 broken up passes
It'll be up to Pruitt to show that he's ready to shine on the strongside after learning the job as a backup over the last two seasons. He's not all that big at 5-11 and 218 pounds, but he's quick and is a steady tackler. Don't be shocked if he turns out to be just as productive as long-time star Ricky Brown.

- Jolonn Dunbar, Jr. - 50 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 broken up passes
Dunbar takes over for second-leading tackler Ray Henderson in the middle after serving as a great backup last year. The former running back has 87 career tackles bringing more speed and athleticism to the position. He was one of the stars of the bowl win over Boise State with a team leading ten tackles along with a forced fumble.

- Brian Toal, Jr. - 53 tackles, 2 sacks, 7 TFL
The superstar recruit of a few years ago saw his production dip a little bit after a 77-tackle freshman season thanks to a shoulder injury, but he still finished fourth on the team in stops and served as an unstoppable goal line fullback. He's 6-1 and 238 pounds with great range and speed on the weakside.

Top Backups
- Kevin Akins, Soph. - 20 tackles, 1 interception, 1 sack, 1.5 TFL
The 6-2, 205-pound sophomore is a lanky defender who was a star high school defensive back, running back and sprinter. He'll bring that speed and quickness to the outside behind Tyronne Pruitt as an experienced backup who can step in and start if needed.
- Mike McLaughlin, RFr.
At 245 pounds, McLaughlin is a much bigger option in the middle than Jolonn Dunbar, but he's not nearly as quick, He's a pure tackler who should grow into a physical run defender.
- Robert Francois, Soph. - 28 tackles, 2 TFL
A lightning fast 235-pounder, Francois is a great backup behind Brian Toal on the outside and has the talent to play on the other side if needed. He was a star high school sprinter who grew into a steady reserve showing great range and the potential to be a top pass rusher.

Defensive Backs

The pass defense might be the strength of the team with experience and depth after finishing 29th in the nation in pass efficiency defense. The only replacement is at one of the corners where Larry Anam will move from safety to replace Jazzmen Williams. DeJuan Tribble is solid on the other side, and safeties Jamie Silva and Ryan Glasper should be among the best in the ACC. There's plenty of veteran depth ready to create a good rotation.
The key to the unit: Pick off more passes. The Eagles only came up with 11 interceptions last season.
Secondary Rating: 8

Projected Starters
- CB DeJuan Tribble, Jr. - 57 tackles, 2 interceptions, 6 broken up passes, 3 TFL
The emergence of Tribble last year allowed Will Blackmon to move to wide receiver full-time. He's a strong tackler and the team's best coverman with good quickness when the ball is in the air. Even at only 5-9 and 189 pounds, he hits like a safety with 48 of his 57 tackles unassisted.
- FS Jamie Silva, Jr. - 87 tackles, 1 sack, 4.5 TFL, 1 interception, 2 broken up passes
Silva went from being a key reserve at both safety spots to the team's leading tackler at free safety. He has 130 career stops and turned out to be a tone-setting hitter. The star high school running back can play strong safety if needed, but his range makes him better at free safety.

- SS Ryan Glasper, Sr. - 43 tackles, 1 sack, 2.5 TFL, 2 interception, 3 broken up passes
A huge hitter with 152 career tackles, Glasper has started since a true freshman and has grown into a rock-solid all-around defender. He has gotten better against the pass while continuing to tackle like an extra linebacker. He's outstanding against the run.

- CB Larry Anam, Sr. - 37 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 broken up passes
In one of the big moves, Anam will move from safety to corner to replace Jazzmen Williams. He has the speed to grow into the role and, at 6-0 and 192 pounds, has more size than Williams, but he'll have to prove he can be as consistent with teams looking to pick on him to stay away from DeJuan Tribble on the other side.

Top Backups
- CB Taji Morris, Jr. - 19 tackles
Morris did a decent job as a reserve and spot starter, but he needs to make more plays when the ball is in the air. He'll start out behind Larry Anam, but he could play either corner position.
- SS Paul Anderson, Soph. - 7 tackles, 1 interception, 1 blocked kick
Anderson saw time as a true freshman and made an impact with a blocked punt that led to a game-sealing touchdown against Virginia. He's an athletic strong safety who can play as a nickel back as well as a key special teamer.

Special Teams
The overall kicking game should be decent, but not spectacular unless placekicker Ryan Ohliger can increase his range and punter Johnny Ayers can help up the net average. Replacing steady kick and punt returner Will Blackmon will be a big priority with DeJuan Tribble looking to take over both jobs. The Eagles only allowed 17 yards per kickoff return, but gave up 10.1 yards per punt return.

The key to the unit: Keep getting better in all phases and hope for DeJuan Tribble to be a consistent kick returner. There are plenty of veterans, but they have to improve.
Special Teams Rating: 7

Projected Starters
- PK Ryan Ohliger, Jr. - 9-14 FGs, 19-20 extra points
It took a little while, but Ohliger turned into a reliable kicker by the end of last year. His problem is range; he doesn't have any. He missed five of nine kicks from 30 yards and beyond with his biggest kick coming from 39 yards.
- P Johnny Ayers, Jr. - 62 punts, 2,561 yds, 41.3 yards per kick, 19 kicks inside the 20
Ayers got a lot of boom on his kicks and did a great job of pinning teams deep, but he has to work better with his coverage team after the Eagles finished 102nd in the nation in net punting and 11th in the ACC.

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