Editor’s Note: It’s a crucial year in Auburn. Gus Malzahn enters his fourth season in a bit of a rut, but he has proven he can quickly change the trajectory of the program when his team’s back is against the wall.
Auburn needs to find a quarterback, develop receivers and lean on a defense many expect to be much improved under coordinator Kevin Steele. Will all of the pieces come together in time for a successful season?
SEC Country takes a look at the 25 Most Important Tigers (and others) who will determine whether Auburn’s season is a success or failure.
23. Rudy Ford, safety
Rudy Ford was a preseason All-SEC selection by several publications last season, but he was inconsistent at safety and moved to nickel as the Tigers tried to find a cohesive lineup in the defensive backfield.
Ford finished with 118 tackles, the most by an Auburn players since 2001, but who wants a safety leading the team in tackles? That usually means trouble. With that said, Ford could be a star at defensive back, especially if he can start forcing more turnovers (five interceptions, three forced fumbles in the last two seasons). “Rudy is one of our better defensive players,” Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said.
Ford worked mostly at Kevin Steele‘s hybrid Star position, so expect to see Ford moving between positions early in the season if things falter elsewhere in the secondary. Ford is an integral piece to this defense and has a chance to be an All-SEC selection when the season ends.
Coming Thursday: Alliteration