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A.J. Jones has two interceptions to help No. 1 Florida Gators beat Georgia Bulldogs

The Gator sideline cheers for linebacker A.J. Jones after his second interception, this one in the third quarter. Jones has three pickoffs at UF, all in the past two weeks.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

The Gator sideline cheers for linebacker A.J. Jones after his second interception, this one in the third quarter. Jones has three pickoffs at UF, all in the past two weeks.

JACKSONVILLE — Before the previous week's game, linebacker A.J. Jones had never had an interception in his three seasons at Florida.

Now, the redshirt junior is tied for the team lead after a two-pick night in No. 1 Florida's 41-17 win over Georgia.

"A.J. Jones is … one of the most underrated players on our defense," fellow linebacker Ryan Stamper said. "I'm just real happy for him because I don't think he gets a lot of the credit that he deserves."

The week before, Jones had an interception on Mississippi State's first drive.

This time, Jones blitzed on Georgia's first play of the second half, tipped Joe Cox's pass straight in the air and dived to catch the ball.

Florida took over at the Georgia 19-yard line and scored three plays later on a 5-yard run by Tim Tebow, widening its lead to 31-10.

"Lou Holtz always says the last five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half are critical momentum-shifters," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "To hand the ball to the offense on the (19)-yard-line, that's a huge momentum shift for us."

Jones added his second interception of the game two Georgia drives later, collecting a Cox pass near the sideline after the quarterback was rushed by defensive end Jermaine Cunningham.

Jones finished with five tackles, a pass breakup and two tackles for loss including a sack.

Throw in an interception each by the Gators' other starting linebackers, Stamper and Brandon Spikes, and Florida had a season-high four picks, none from defensive backs.

"I'm just so proud of the linebackers," Jones said. "We got more picks than the (defensive backs). It was like we should've switched places."

Jones has taken a while to blossom but is making up for it.

He was rated the No. 13 outside linebacker recruit by Rivals.com coming out of Tampa Middleton. After sitting out 2006 with an ankle injury, Jones played every game in '07 on a struggling defense. Last year, he appeared in 12 games but was hampered by a late-season knee injury.

Now he has started every game this season.

"Two years ago, he played because he had to, because no one else was behind him," Meyer said. "Now, he's a grown man that's really taking care of his business. He's a program guy.

"He's a much different player than he was. He's earned that. I'm really proud to have a guy like that."

A.J. Jones has two interceptions to help No. 1 Florida Gators beat Georgia Bulldogs 10/31/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 31, 2009 10:15pm]
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