The 2002 Boston College defensive line will be one of the many strengths on coach Tom O'Brien's football team. There is a even balance of youth and experience, as the Eagles return three of the four starters on the line.
Gone is Sean Guthrie, one of the leaders of the Eagles' 2001 defense. He and his eight sacks will be missed at the defensive end position.
DE Antonio Garay hopes to return from a neck injury that sidelined him for a good part of the 2001 campaign. Despite this, Garay finished his year with 57 tackes (good for sixth on the team), along with five QB sacks. Coach O'Brien hopes to have a healthy Garay for the season opener against UConn.
I had the privelige of seeing DT Doug Goodwin play high school ball at Holy Trinity Diocesesan HS on Long Island, and the kid has gotten better every year. Last season he broke out in a game against Temple, recording two sacks and a safety. This performance earned his Big East player of the week honors. For the season, Goodwin totaled 50 tackles and four sacks. I believe he will emerge this year as one of the top defensive tackles in the conference.
Next to Goodwin at DT is returning starter Tom Martin. Martin, like Goodwin, has improved every year. His 55 tackle performance from a year ago should be an omen of things to come for the junior out of Farmingdale, NJ. With Martin, Goodwin, and sophomore Tim Bulman in the mix after seeing a good amount of action in 2001, the Eagles should be very good at stopping the run up the middle.
The question mark is at the other defensive end position. Coach O'Brien seems to have tabbed Derric Rossy at left end, and the job is his to lose. Rossy started the three games Garay missed due to injury, including the Music City Bowl.
Rounding out the line are Anthony Crosson and Justin Hinds at tackle, who figure to see limited time unless Goodwin, Bulman or Martin goes down to an injury. I like Hinds' size and speed, and he should be able to anchor down the second reserve position.
At end, junior Phil Mettling and redshirt freshman Mathias Kiwanuka will probably see time backing up Rossy and Garay. The health of Garay is still a question, so either one of these capable backups may be thrust into duty earlier than coach O'Brien would like.
The line of scrimmage is where the game is won or lost. With perhaps the best offensive line in the Big East, and a very promising defensive line, the Eagles have a bright outlook for the upcoming season. If everyone can stay healthy, which is an asterisk in every preview you'll read, the Eagles should have one solid defensive line. Goodwin and Martin are poised for another stellar season, and Garay should emerge as the leader of the Eagles' defense in his senior campaign. Rossy showed he is capable of performing in big games, as he played a steady Music City Bowl.
The defensive line will be the anchor for a solid Boston College defense.
Michael Chevallier is the publisher of eagleinsider.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org