Spikes Leading with his Play

Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes has been making big plays all season, and on Saturday, he took an interception into the end zone for the second time this season. It's been the play of Spikes that has helped energize the Gator defense all season, but he said they still haven't reached their best yet.

Brandon Spikes leads the Florida Gators in tackles and tackles for a loss and is second in interceptions. He is the heart and soul of the Gator defense, and his interception on Saturday afternoon began the rout against South Carolina.

"We know the game can change on one play, so we just want to go out and play one play at a time," Spikes said.

Spikes watched the 2006 defense from the sidelines. For now, that's the defense that all Gator teams will be compared to. Their relentless effort carried Florida to a national championship, and Spikes hopes to lead this year's defense to that same level of play.

"We've been trying to go out every week and get the job done," Spikes said. "Traditionally, the '06 team they had a lot of great players, but I think we're getting better as each game goes on."

Florida learned a lot from its loss to Ole Miss and a lot has changed since then. Mostly, their work ethic changed, and it all begins with their leaders like Spikes. Head coach Urban Meyer said that Spikes carries around his portable DVD player so he can watch film and that's the kind of attention to detail that has made this defense get better.

"The step back we took against Ole Miss kind of opened up our eyes," Spikes said. "We don't take things for granted anymore. We're looking at all the small things like watching extra film. All the small things we used to take for granted."

The defense has also rallied around its defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. Strong has worked hard to develop the players and created game plans that plays to the players' strengths.

"He's been doing an awesome job putting us in the right places at the right times," Spikes said. "He works hard and it shows on Saturdays. … We're just doing our jobs, hitting our gaps. Guys are doing a great job every week of coming out and trying to get better and help the guys around them get better."

The competition is fierce. Since the start of the season, about half of the defensive starting lineup has changed as players battle for jobs.

"We have dynamic players all over the field," Spikes said. "To play on defense there are standards you have to live up to. You have to come out and play hard with relentless effort. When your number gets called you better come in and make a play cause your number may not get called again."

Spikes knows Florida still has a lot to accomplish this season, but they'll only accomplish their goals if they continue to work and improve.

"We try to stay humble and not get ahead of ourselves because we know week in and week out we can get beat," he said.

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