Gator LBs Come up with Big Plays

The Florida Gators intercepted Georgia quarterbacks four times Saturday, and none of the turnovers were made by a defensive back. All four were picked off by the Gators' linebackers, each starter getting at least one. The interceptions led to three scores by the Gators on their way to a 41-17 rout of the Bulldogs in Jacksonville.

Florida's defense has led it most of the season especially with the recent struggles of the offense, but linebacker Ryan Stamper hasn't felt the defense has played up to the same level as last year when it was one of the top units in the nation.

He was reminded of last season's defense Saturday night though.

"It felt like last year a lot," Stamper said. "Last year, a lot of guys were jogging on us, and then we would make a big play. It's just like the coaches said we make a lot of big plays, force a lot of fumbles.

"We had four interceptions tonight. We had four from linebackers that just shows how many great players we have."

The linebackers didn't start the show until the second half when A.J. Jones batted a Joe Cox pass into the air then dove to catch the ball on the Bulldogs' opening drive after halftime. It was the third time in the last four years the Gators have forced a turnover on Georgia's first drive in the second half.

The interception set up quarterback Tim Tebow's second rushing touchdown of the game. Jones also had the second pick of the game for the Gators.

Not be outdone Stamper joined in on the fun, intercepting Cox on the Bulldogs' following possession.

Stamper bit on the a play fake by Cox but recovered in time to catch the pass after it was knocked out of receiver A.J. Green's hands.

"We were in cover 2 in base. They did a play-action and I kinda went in for the play-action, and when I see him pull up, I just ran as fast I could to get depth because I knew they were doing a dig behind me. So when they threw it, I wasn't even looking at the ball I was looking at A.J. Green. I saw it coming, so I put one hand up, and he still got it to him then Major Wright came and hit him, and then it was right there," Stamper said.

The senior's pick was the first of his career despite being one of the defense's best players for the last two years. The thought of the Gators' linebackers combining for four interceptions in a game never crossed his mind before the game.

"Not really because this is my first career interception, so I couldn't really imagine a game with me having an interception."

The last interception came from fellow senior Brandon Spikes who returned it five yards for a score.

The two seniors joined with the rest of their graduating class to make a statement with the performance.

With Florida being criticized for its weak showings in recent games, the seniors put it on their shoulders to lead the team back to what they expect of themselves.

"The seniors coming out wanted to give a message after last week," Stamper said. "We felt even though we won the ball game it was a pretty close game, and we just wanted to come out and play as hard as we could tonight."

Stamper had a little extra motivation for a playing well. The outside backer is from Jacksonville and had many friends and family in attendance.

"It was a great feeling for us to beat Georgia. Me being from here makes even better. I had my whole family here," Stamper said.

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