Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Dee Ford's role in Auburn's defense
By Brent Sobleski
Very few Auburn players left spring practice secure with their position on the depth chart. A new head coach and schemes leave plenty of uncertainty. One certainty after the 15 spring sessions is who will be the team's primary pass rusher.
"I think we know Dee Ford is going to be a starter," Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson told Joel A. Erickson of Al.com. "Overall, he probably was one of the three to four, five guys you’d say had an outstanding spring."
Corey Lemonier served in the same role Ford is expected to produce this year. Ford actually led the Tigers with six sacks last season. He will be relied upon more heavily during his senior campaign.
"He is our best and, at this point, our only pass rusher that is giving us the kind of pass rush we’ve got to get to be successful," Johnson said. "He improved a lot in his run fits, especially at the point of attack."
But Ford is far from a finished product. Auburn defensive line coach Rodney Gardner expects more from Ford than what was seen last season. How a pass rusher gets to the quarterback is nearly as important as simply getting to the quarterback.
"Dee can’t just be an up-the-field, speed, edge rusher," Garner told Erickson. "He’s got to come up with some different kind of moves too. That’s the thing that we tried to work on this spring in the little 15-day period that we had."
Auburn will likely have to rely on a freshman to become Ford's bookend on obvious passing downs. And Ford will prove to be the focal point of Auburn's defense this season.