Rudy Ford heads to the end zone on his 48-yard interception return.
Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn Tigers achieved bowl eligibility Saturday with a 56-34 win over the Idaho Vandals. The story of the game might have been Auburn’s offense finally functioning at a high level, scoring eight touchdowns, but not to be remiss should be the effort of Auburn’s defense.
Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s unit bent for 479 total yards, but did not break often. The defense forced three turnovers, one of those being a 48-yard interception returned for touchdown by junior defensive back Rudy Ford . “I saw some blockers,” Ford noted after being asked what he saw after he caught the interception, “and I just hit the hole. I just took off with it.”
There was no doubt in Ford’s mind that he would score on the play. It was the Tigers’ first interception returned for a touchdown since former safety Jermaine Whitehead’s pick six against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 2014 season opener.
“As soon as you catch it you just want to turn up the field and get as many yards as you can,” said Ford. “I had some blocks from my teammates and I got in the end zone.”
For the game Ford recorded seven tackles, including one for loss, to go along with the interception return for TD.
To begin the season Ford started at safety alongside Georgia transfer and sophomore Tray Matthews. However, the starting safeties for Saturday’s game were Blake Countess and Stephen Roberts.
Ford lost his starting spot after the trip to LSU and slowly made the transition to nickel back. He has started at his new position since the home game vs. Ole Miss.
“It has been good,” Rudy said of switching from safety to nickel. “In (Coach Muschamp’s) defense they are very similar. They have the same kind of calls so I adjusted very well on the fly. I have been able to pick it up really fast so it hasn’t been difficult at all for me.”
Moving to 6-5 for the football season and gaining bowl eligibility was the mission for the team, according to Ford. The underclassmen really wanted to send the seniors out in the right way.
“It definitely feels good to get another win for our seniors,” Ford admitted. “They have put a lot into our program. To get them into another bowl game,= that is a great situation for us. It is big for those guys because they put a lot into the program.
Auburn’s final regular season game next Saturday is the yearly clash with in-state rival Alabama, a team Ford said has a “great offense.” The game will kickoff shortly after 2:30 p.m. CST and will be televised by CBS. For Ford and the team, the win could change the outlook of the year.
“We’re going to prepare like no other team has,” Ford said of the task ahead facing the 10-1 Crimson Tide. “We’re going to get ready for these guys.”