Top Tiger Tackler Focused On Winning

Johnathan "Rudy" Ford talks about the Auburn football team's defense as the Tigers head into their home opener on Saturday vs. Jacksonville State.

Auburn, Ala.-- Johnathan Ford picked up where he left off last football season when he was Auburn’s leading tackler, but the junior safety known as “Rudy” said he is more concerned about the numbers on the scoreboard at the end of the game.

On Saturday at the Georgia Dome that was Auburn 31, Louisville 24 at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game.

Ford did his part to help the Tigers win as he amassed a team-leading 12 tackles. “The biggest thing is to get the win,” said Ford, a second-year starter.

“Looking back at it there could have been some things that we could have played better, myself included,” he pointed out. “We just need to prepare for next week and focus on the next opponent. That (Louisville game) is behind us.”

The Tigers will return to action on Saturday as they play Jacksonville State at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The game will kick off at 11 a.m. CDT.

At the opener the Tigers led 17-0 at intermission, but didn’t play as well in the second half after starters Carl Lawson and Tray Matthews went down with injuries. Lawson plays the “buck” end position and Matthews joins Ford at the safety spots.

“It makes a difference,” noted Ford in regards to Lawson and Matthews’s absence. “Those two bring a lot to the table. They bring great energy and get after the ball every (play) so when those guys go out, the next guy has to prepare like those guys do to make it not that much of a change. We have to adjust to everything and the next person has to be accountable.”

In the secondary the next guys are inexperienced players such as true freshmen cornerbacks Jeremiah Dinson and Carlton Davis and true freshman Tim Irvin, who plays safety and nickel.

Ford said that the biggest thing he can do to help the newcomers when they enter the game is to “keep those guys calm--let them know that they can still make plays. Treat (the game) like it is practice. On game day a lot of nerves start to get boiling.”

Ford admitted that he didn’t play his best game vs. Louisville and has plenty to work on, but noted he was encouraged by the defense’s effort saying that the unit always “swarmed to the ball.”

The increased effort may have been sparked by new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who Ford said also serves as the “hype man” for Auburn’s defense.

“His attitude and his whole delivery to us (energizes us),” the safety said. “He has a video that he shows us before games that gets us all hyped up even more. When you see guys that you look up to doing great things, that’s going to make you want to go out there and play like those guys. It just gets us pumped up.”

Ford pointed out as players he likes to watch in the highlight videos include Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas along with Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu. “When you see those guys make plays, it gets us more pumped up to go out and make plays,” he said.

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