Ford, Tigers not letting up

CLEMSON - With four regular season games remaining in 2012, you can bet last year's late-season slide is in the back of Brandon Ford's mind.

"Last year was a first-time experience, Clemson hadn't been there [8-0] in a long time," Ford said. "These last four games we can't go 3-1. Let's go 4-0. Then we can look up when we're 11-1. Turnovers are what hurt us last year. We had eight or nine in first eight games, but we had 20 by the end of the season. Right now, we are focusing on not turning the ball over. And, we're not acting like we're the big dogs."

Duke is 5-0 at home this year, but they haven't beat a ranked opponent since 1994. Not acting like the big dogs means respecting your opponent, no matter who stands across the line of scrimmage.

"They [Duke] are playing really well and bringing everything they can to compete for an ACC championship," Ford said. "You give them credit for everything they've done and probably will do this season."

Teams are starting to respect Brandon Ford, too.

Comparing Ford's numbers of all last year to just eight games in 2012, and you might think those numbers should be reversed.

In 2011, Ford had 14 catches for 166 yards and two touchdowns. This season, he has 22 catches for 251 yards, and five touchdowns.

Ford said his low-key performances against the Tigers' last three opponents are nothing to cry home about. It comes with the territory of being good.

"Teams are trying to take me away. Teams key on certain guys in certain games. It's not a lack of production. Sammy, Nuk, and Andre might not have the games they want sometimes, too."

Still, Ford knows there are bigger things to worry about than individual statistics.

"I enjoy getting guys free and blocking," Ford said. "That's part of that production at that position. There were opportunities for others earlier in the game against Wake Forest, so I tried to help them out. We like to spread the ball around. Sharing the ball is one of those things that makes us better, it's nothing to be mad about."

Clemson will certainly look to share the ball against a Duke team that favors man-to-man coverage.

"They have a nasty defense and play a lot of cover zero," Ford said. "They match up and see if their guys can beat our guys. That's just playing ball for us. They are going to try and take away the fast tempo for us. We have to execute and be ready for it."

Because, really, when it comes down to it, numbers and individual production aren't what matter -- especially in the last four games of the season.

"Our offense and defense are getting better and better each week," Ford said. "This time last year it was the opposite. I'm proud when we get the win. That's my first goal and only goal."

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