Eagles among the elite in many defensive categories

Boston College hasn't had many quarterbacks like Matt Ryan. So how do you recover from losing the third overall pick of the 2008 draft? The Eagles' answer has been to bone up on defense.

This season's unit certainly is not a carbon copy of last season's. Three standouts from 2007 -- S Jamie Silva (Colts), LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar (Saints) and CB DeJuan Tribble (Chargers) -- left to play on Sundays. Making matters worse, DE Brady Smith, who started 12 games as a sophomore in 2007, was kicked off the team in April and starting LB Brian Toal lasted just six games this fall before suffering a season-ending leg injury.

Yet defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani's blue-collar unit continues to answer the bell. Boston College ranks 14th in the nation in scoring defense at 16.9 points allowed per game, one of nine categories in which the Eagles' defense is among the top 25. Plus, the only other Football Bowl Subdivision team that has pitched three shutouts this season is No. 6 USC. Not bad company.