Auburn Football: Five Tigers Key to a Victory in the Outback Bowl

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Sep 6, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive back Johnathan Ford (23) recovers a fumble by San Jose State Spartans wide receiver Tim Crawley (2) during the second quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Rudy Ford

Like President, safety Rudy Ford stepped up to play a major role for the Auburn defense in 2014.

Ford, a converted running back, unexpectedly beat out junior college transfer Derrick Moncrief to win a starting spot in fall camp and capitalized by leading the Tigers with 84 tackles during the regular season. He also picked off three passes, which ranks third on the squad.

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  • The sophomore never relinquished the role and started all 12 games for the Tigers.

    Of course, he still played in a secondary that was victimized for 416 passing yards and five touchdowns against South Carolina, 339 yards against Ole Miss, 277 yards and four TDs from Texas A&M true freshman quarterback Kyle Allen in a 41-38 loss to the Aggies and 312 yards by Blake Sims and a couple of embarrassingly easy touchdowns for Amari Cooper in a 55-44 loss to Alabama.

    In other words, despite his production, the 6-foot, 199-pound Ford will still need to prove himself to Muschamp to stay in the starting lineup in 2015. But, Ford is confident in himself and the Tigers to improve on defense.

    “We can definitely be a top ten defense,” Ford said last week. “We’re going to be very great coming into our future and everything. We’re going to be very great. We’re going to be one of the toughest defenses to play.”

    Ford and the Tigers will be tested by Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon and a passing attack that is better than advertised. Another solid effort in the Outback Bowl will go a long way towards building momentum for 2015.

    Next: Defensive Tackle Montravius Adams