Playing both running back and cornerback as a freshman, "Rudy" Ford made the move to safety as a sophomore and the results were very positive. Leading the team in tackles and showing the ability to come up and be physical at the line of scrimmage, Ford is looking to build on that experience heading into the 2015 season.
“Last year was great,” Ford said. “I built a lot of confidence--better technique, stuff I should have worked on last year, my first year, but I feel confident and better. I have more knowledge about it, how to play the defense right, so it helped out a whole lot.
“This spring has been great, just learning the defense and just playing in it--just keep on learning and getting better every day,” he added.
Rudy Ford is poised to have a big season in the secondary for the Tigers as a returning starter.
Following two years of playing it is not just his physical skills that have gotten better, it is every part of the game for Ford. In particular he noted his mental approach has improved a great deal now that he understands what to look for and what he needs to do in order to make the correct adjustments on the fly.
“Oh yeah, I get the defense,” he said. “I pick it up quicker and all this stuff now. I know what to do, looking at every scheme and all that stuff. I know my terminology a whole lot better and as far as my technique and stuff, it’s gotten a whole lot better. There is a lot of stuff I worked on and still going to continue to work on to be great.”
Working pick up the details of Muschamp's schemes has been a big part of spring practice for Ford and the rest of the defense. Also part of the assignment is getting used to Muschamp’s personality. Always teaching and coaching every second of the day, the new defensive coordinator has definitely made an impact on Ford already.
“He brings that whole intensity,” Ford said. “He makes sure our effort is great because overall, as a unit, he makes sure we all fly to the ball. If we get all 11 guys running to the ball we’re going to track it down and everything. He makes sure execution...he wants all that stuff tuned in for next year. He brings a lot to the table and makes our standard rise a little higher.”
Raising their standards and production first and foremost means becoming a more physical football team. Whether it is up front on the line, the linebackers or even the secondary, the focus for the Tigers in the spring is on taking the fight to the offense every play.
“I see a whole lot of signs,” Ford said that Muschamp's teaching is taking hold. “It's making us change everything. Right now we are going to attack a lot more. We are bringing all that physical play. We can pick out who is going to be soft. Other than that everybody is going to run to the ball, fly to the ball. We want a tough defense. Our defense is going to change this year, so we're going to be a tough defense.”