Built Ford Tough

CLEMSON - When it was said Clemson's offense was missing something at the end of last year when Jacoby Ford went down with a broken ankle, nobody knew the Tigers would be missing out on the kind of production he's shown so far this season.

Quick! Name Clemson's leading receiver through the first four games of the 2008 season.

Did you say Aaron Kelly?

What about Tyler Grisham?

If you guessed either of the two you were wrong. It's actually Jacoby Ford.

Ford, the smallest but fastest of all of Clemson's wide receivers, has already caught 18 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown this season, already surpassing his reception total in seven games a year ago.

By all accounts, his emergence in Clemson's offense was certainly expected, but maybe not quite like this.

"You started to see the light come on for him some during spring practice," said senior QB Cullen Harper. "His route running improved a good bit and then during preseason he was doing things where he would always find a way to be uncovered where before he may have just been taken out of the play."

Coming off a broken ankle suffered last year at Maryland, is also Clemson's fourth-leading rusher with seven carries for 65 yards.

CUTigers.com sat down for a 1-on-1 interview Tuesday to get his thoughts on his play thus far in 2008 and also Clemson's upcoming game against Maryland:

"The season is starting right now with the six or seven ACC games we have in a row. Now we are really going to get to define what kind of team we want to be and we want to be on top."
Jacoby you've put up some nice numbers the last two weeks. What's been the biggest difference in your game lately?
Ford: I've just been trying to take advantage of the opportunities I've been given this year. I'm just trying to use my abilities to show what I can do when I get the ball in my hand. Just trying to put myself in good situations to help my team win games. So far I've been able to do it.

I know you are familiar with what Maryland likes to do on defense with their odd stack and various coverages. What does that mean when the coaches talk about an "odd stack?"
Ford: That means that are going to be a lot of potential big plays for us to make. We have to have an attack philosophy against a team like this because that's how you win. They do some different things up front and will mix it up but Maryland is going to a physical team like they've always been. They are usually one of the more physical teams on our schedule every year.

Has this team moved past the Alabama game yet?
Ford: I've let that game go. The season is starting right now with the six or seven ACC games we have in a row. Now we are really going to get to define what kind of team we want to be and we want to be on top. So I think we are pretty fired up and hopefully we can get the win.

What do you remember about the game last year in College Park?
Ford: They were real physical but we had a great game plan with Coach Spence. We jumped on top of them real quick. We attacked them. I think we had one turnover but after that we started rolling and it was over after that.

What do you make of a team that loses to Middle Tennessee then beats No. 23 California?
Ford: Well, for us, we just have to have a good week in practice. Maryland has improved. They aren't going to be intimidated because they knocked us off two years ago. So they won't be afraid to come in here and give them a good game. They'll give the fans what they want- a good ACC showdown. It should be a good game to watch and I can't for it.

Two years ago- was that more of a motivational deal where you guys came out flat or did they do something that surprised you?
Ford: It really hurt losing that game. I think that was right after the Virginia Tech game. Losing back to back like that sucked the life out of us. We'd like to get some revenge back this week. We want to regain that edge because we have to protect our house. At home, this should be a big advantage for us and not for them.

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