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College football

UF has safety in numbers with Scott

The senior is all over the field, setting a dominant tone in a rout.

By BRIAN SHAFFER
Published August 31, 2003

GAINESVILLE - When Florida's defense took the field Saturday night, the unit knew who its leader was.

It was the rest of the country that looked to name one.

Against San Jose State, strong safety Guss Scott made it clear that this is his defense.

Scott filled the stat sheet with two tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, two pass deflections, a fumble recovery and a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 65-3 victory.

"He has the opportunity to be a big, big-time safety," Gator coach Ron Zook said. "He's a leader. He knows this is his last year and he went out and attacked this just like we'd expect him to."

With 5:41 left in the second quarter, Scott's interception return for a touchdown put the Gators up 27-3 and capped a scoring barrage of 21 points in 4 minutes, 25 seconds.

"It's always good when a defensive player gets to score a touchdown," Scott said. "It's a great feeling because it doesn't happen too often."

Florida players have pointed to Scott, known for his tireless work in the gym and intense personality on the field, as the locker room leader since spring practice. His two tackles don't indicate how much Scott was around the ball; the big plays proved his worth.

"I just wanted to come out, play hard and play fast," Scott said. "That was our main goal as a defense today, to come out and play hard to make up for some of the mistakes we might make."

The Spartans were held to 98 yards passing.

"They're a big screen team and a big bootleg team," Scott said. "You can take care of that by just running to the ball. It's an 11-man play, get to the ball. And that's what we really worked on."

With linebackers Channing Crowder and Taurean Charles suspended for the first week, Scott was asked to play close to the line of scrimmage. When he didn't crowd the line, he lined up man-to-man with the slot receiver, a position he blitzed from several times.

As a blitzer, Scott made his presence felt early. Twice he came in unblocked and batted passes down at the line of scrimmage.

While much was made about the 45 Gators who had no game experience, the most emphatic performance was by a senior.

"Guss is like the quarterback of our defense," senior cornerback Keiwan Ratliff said. "When he comes up big and does things like this, it's a benefit for our team. He had a big game, so the defense played well."

[Last modified August 31, 2003, 01:47:13]


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