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Miami Hurricanes making strides toward returning to an elite defense

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They are not Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp and the boys again. Not yet. But the University of Miami’s defense has gotten closer.

The Hurricanes took huge strides defensively a year ago. This year, under head coach Al Golden, more steps are needed.

“There were dramatic improvements,” said defensive coordinator Mark D’Onfrio to the Miami Herald. “Now we have to take the next step.”

A year ago, UM went from 90th to 14th in total defensee and from 76th to fifth in allowing plays 20 yards or longer. Now, the Hurricanes want more tackles for loss, more sacks, better red zone defense and better third downs to compete better in the ACC.

Miami has 17 lettermen returning on defense, plus four players who played for the team in previous years. It puts the Hurricanes in position to be spoilers in the coming season. Linebackers Jermaine Grace and Raphael Kirby are expected to the lead the way for UM in the coming season.

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

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