September 4, 2009

Freshman DE brings it off the edge

When Dee Ford bounced from defensive end to linebacker and back to end a few weeks ago, he seemed destined for a redshirt season.

Over the last couple weeks, though, the true freshman has worked his way into immediate playing time.

Now coaches are working to get Ford and the rest of the freshmen prepared for the mental aspect of the game.

"That's basically what all the practices are going to be about from now on - getting mentally prepared," Ford said. "Physically, we've already been bumping since July."

With neither Antoine Carter or Cameron Henderson expected to play Saturday, both Ford and Nosa Eguae made their way onto the depth chart.

Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said he has no choice but to play the two true freshmen.

"They're going to have to play," Rocker said. "But I feel good about it, I feel comfortable. The biggest thing when you're that young, you want to make sure you eliminate the missed assignments.

"The thing we're stressing is fundamentals, using your hands and knowing where you're supposed to go. You don't want the kid all of a sudden if he makes a mistake, gets frustrated and loses his spirit - that's the thing I don't want. But I keep stressing, 'You're going to be fine. Just keep battling and battling and we'll see what happens.'"

Ford will play his first game as an undersized end. He said he has gained 25 pounds, but still weighs just 220 pounds.

To negate the size advantage the bigger offensive tackles will have, Ford said he must play effectively with his hands.

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