When LSU running back Michael Ford steps onto the Georgia Dome turf on New Year's Eve, he is hopeful that his team will present a balanced attack for Clemson to deal with. The 5-10 216-pound junior explained that balance in the offense is something that the Tigers work towards on a daily basis.
However, Ford believes that LSU can come out victorious even without a balanced offensive attack.
"At the end of the day, it doesn't matter," said Ford. "We know that if we have a big passing game, then the running game might lack. If we have a big running game, then the passing game might lack. When we bring them both together we are an amazing team. Sometimes things just don't work out like that. When they do come together this is a great team."
Heading into the clash with Clemson, there were many LSU fans that thought the Tigers deserved a better bowl bid. Ford explained that they do not share the same mentality as the fans leading up to the game.
"It's an exciting thing when you play someone outside of your conference," said Ford. "As legacy holds, we have the power conference. We just have to live up to that legacy and take another win from outside of our conference."
Ford explained that the entire LSU squad understands what a bowl win could mean for the 2013 season by closing out the 2012 season on a high note.
"I think it is a stepping stone into next year," said Ford. "If you get that win then you have the hype for the next season and everything is gelling together. It would definitely be something to look forward to."
Since LSU has started its bowl preparations, players have been a little slow to get back into the grind of football. This isn't a concern to Ford as he knows the Tigers will be ready to play when they step onto the field for the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
"They have been regular practices," said Ford. "We have to get our legs back under us and get used to the speed and tempo of things again. Things have been a little slow since we've been off. We just need to get back in the swing of things. Once we get closer to the game, everything will be fine."
Over the last few weeks of the regular season Ford, who has rushed for 393 yards and three touchdowns on the year, saw his workload diminish a bit. While most players would enjoy more playing time, Ford explained that he fights every day to make the most of the opportunities given to him, in order to keep his role on the team.
"Being an athlete, there is always going to be another guy stepping in," said Ford. "You never know what your role is going to be and you have to be prepared for anything, no matter what that role is. If you aren't ready to step up when it's your shot, you may never get to be in that role again."
The lack of playing time over the last few weeks has not been something that has concerned Ford. Being on a team with as many great running backs as LSU has taught Ford that players, at any given position, must work together in order to be successful. Ford also said that this starts in practice when the reps are divided among the players at his position.
"It's easy because there are so many great guys on the team," said Ford. "It's a team sport and there are eleven guys on the other side of the ball. I know I'm not going to get the ball every single play. We just have to work together.
"In practice, everyone gets reps, no matter who you are. You just go out there and work hard. So really, it's not just one guy getting all of the reps.We're working together."
Ford has taken on the responsibilities of running back and kick returner this season, the latter being an area where he feels he can still improve. Given that it is the last game of the season, Ford is anxious to make a statement in the kicking game for LSU.
"I think it is going pretty well," said Ford, when asked about his performance as a returner. "It could also be going better. Getting a touchdown in that last game would be amazing."
Being a redshirt junior, Ford will have a decision to make following the bowl game on whether or not to give up his final year of eligibility at LSU for a shot at the NFL Draft. For now, he is worried about finishing this season on a high note.
"I really haven't focused on it too much," said Ford. "I've been trying to get ready for this game and that's my main focus right now. I'll definitely make a big decision after the bowl game."