Ford Focused On Playing With Passion

Auburn defensive end Dee Ford talks about the Iron Bowl and what the Tigers need to do on defense as they prepare to face a strong opponent on Saturday.

Auburn, Ala.—When you look back on Auburn's unlikely comeback from being 24-0 down to win in Tuscaloosa two years ago the throws by Cam Newton and the big hit by T'Sharvan Bell might be the first thing that comes to mind, but for junior defensive end Dee Ford it was a different play.

Down by three touchdowns and with Alabama driving for another score, the Tigers needed someone to step up and make a big play. That guy was defensive end Antoine Carter.

Catching Tide star running back Mark Ingram from behind on a 41-yard reception, Carter caused a fumble that was recovered by Demond Washington to end the Alabama scoring threat.

While that Auburn defense had its share of struggles during the 2010 season, when that team needed to make a big play the Tigers stepped up time and time again.

That has not been the case with this year's version of Auburn's defense under the guidance of new coordinator Brian VanGorder. With just two interceptions and 10 caused fumbles, the Tigers have not only struggled to force turnover, they have had problems slowing most offenses they have faced.

Allowing 26.5 points per game, Auburn has been particularly bad in recent SEC outings.

Facing two outstanding offenses in Texas A&M and Georgia, Auburn has allowed 100 total points in its last two conference games. Those are the numbers that keep defensive players up at night and for junior Dee Ford it was seemingly an out of body experience being in the middle of it.

"It's hard, but for me when they jumped up that fast it kind of caught me off guard," Ford said. "I was so focused on just trying to get everything going and trying to calm everybody down to keep fighting. That's hard to explain. We have the guys who have all the talent. We work hard. It's just hard to explain. We just don't execute on Saturday. It obliterates the whole defense when one guy doesn't do their job.

"There are a lot of explosive plays. It's to the point now where dynamic offenses like Texas A&M and Georgia will get up real quick. You really have to come in with a different mindset. I feel like we're tired of that because we're better than that. We're way better than that. Especially this week we're going to come with a totally different mindset."

Dee Ford

Ford and the Tigers will have another tough challenge this weekend in the annual Iron Bowl as Alabama comes in with a very balanced offense led by quarterback A.J. McCarron and the running back tandem of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. As well as the skill players have performed, the players who have most impressed the defensive end are the five guys up front for the Crimson Tide.

"Yes, they have a great big offensive line," Ford said. "I can't allow them to get their hands on me. They are great. They are older and more experienced. It's going to be tough."

Looking for another one of those signature plays on defense to spark what he hopes will be the Tigers' best performance of the season, Ford said the key for the Tigers this Saturday will be to put everything together and play as a unit. While Auburn has talked time and time again about having good weeks of practice, the junior said it's time to take that to the game on Saturday.

"I'm skeptical to say preparation because Texas A&M and Georgia were great weeks of practice," Ford said of what it's going to take for the defense to step up.

"I'm going to say more so calming down and focusing on Saturday. It's inevitable that we're going to practice hard and work during practice. We just have to bring that on the field and calm down. It's going to be a hostile environment. We're going to have to calm down and play ball at the end of the day and stay on one page."

In the end the team that runs the ball the best, stops the run, and makes the fewest mistakes will likely walk out of Bryant-Denny Stadium a winner if the 2012 game is like most Iron Bowl matchups. Ford said while everyone considers his team a huge underdog he contends the possibility is there to pull off an upset if the Tigers give a huge effort.

"Passion is the biggest thing about this game," he said. "Numbers and statistics don't matter in this game, it's the passion that you play with. Playing with that effort and passion could possibly win you the game."

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