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Defensive line has been a key to Bucs’ improvement so far

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The improvement of the Tampa Bay Bucs’ defense through two games is no accident, says under tackle Gerald McCoy.

McCoy pointed to the newcomers up front who have led the way.

“We brought in some guys,” McCoy said. “Robert Ayers is a vet and [has] got a lot of experience, really good player. He has a lot of nastiness to him, which helps us out a lot when we’re preparing in meetings, individually, and getting ready to go against other teams.

“And then Noah Spence is coming along strong. Clinton McDonald is Clinton McDonald; we call him ‘The Hammer’ for a reason. So guys are developing. Will Gholston is really having a good camp, he really is. And Coach (Mike) Smith’s scheme is great, man, It leaves opportunities for everybody to make plays.”

McCoy likes having other vets on defense for the team to lean on.

“Having more vets, instead of just being the one, having more people to go to — and even for me, because Daryl Smith is like 100 years old. So I can go to him, he’s got a lot of experience, and he’s been in this defense before, so he’s really, really big for us,” McCoy said.

McCoy said the goal is for all 11 players to move as one.

“Yeah, like I [was] just asked, that defense you [saw] with Denver last year and that 2002 Bucs defense, they were — let’s take away all of the Hall of Famers on the defense and just look at how 11 people, when the ball moved, 11 moved as fast as they could to wherever that ball is at,” McCoy said. “That’s where we’re trying to build ourselves on. If we’re out of place, it doesn’t matter if we’re out [of] our gap, if you get out [of] your gap, you turn, and you go as fast as you can. Because we had a play against Jacksonville [where] Gholston got out of his gap, fell on the ground, popped up and made the play like 10 yards down the field. You ask what our identity [is], that’s what we have to be.”

Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald said the team did OK in its practices against the Browns.

“I feel like we did an OK job,” McDonald said. “We’re never satisfied if we’re not on the field showing greatness. So we did OK in certain aspects. In certain aspects, we have to straighten up and get our act right. But for the most part, I feel like every day’s a learning process, every day you’re either going to get better or get worse, so we’re striving every day to get better.”

Head coach Dirk Koetter said the offense struggled against another team for the second straight week.

“We had balls tipped; we had poor throws, and we had bad protection. Bad combination,” Koetter said. He said place-kicker Roberto Aguayo continues to struggle.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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