Nov. 27, 2013
Auburn's Nosa Eguae, left, and Dee Ford, together again for the final time in Jordan-Hare Stadium (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. – Nosa Eguae calls it go-time.
It's the Iron Bowl. It's his last game in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
"It’s time to go out there and get a win for Auburn," he says.
He'll try to do it with his fellow fifth-year defensive lineman Dee Ford, two friends who can tell good-natured stories on each other as their college careers wind down.
"It’s going to be huge. Dee Ford is a little more emotional than me, he may cry," Eguae said.
"I don’t know about crying," Ford protested.
Ford and Eguae will be making the rounds against Alabama on Saturday, sort of like they were doing sitting side by side during an ESPN interview Tuesday. They been through a lot.
"He came in with me, so we’re very close," Ford said. "We’re total opposites. He’s very mellow and cool. I’m very emotional and loud and crazy and wild." Emotional as in crying?
"I don’t think I would cry," Ford laughed.
Ford and Eguae were once both defensive ends, as in, even through the first four games this season. But Eguae was moved to defensive tackle and both have had good seasons. Ford leads Auburn in sacks, tackles for a loss and quarterback hurries. He and Eguae, have combined for 39 tackles, but that total doesn't account for pressuring the quarterback.
Ford, the emotional one, says he's ready to add to those totals.
"I sit up at night thinking about the game, thinking about big moments," he said. "I’m really trying not to focus on it being my last one. I don’t want it to be too emotional. I still want to be focused. It’s Senior Day and I have a lot of family coming in. It’s definitely something I really have to control during the week, really try to get that sleep and get rest. You can get caught up at night just thinking about everything you have to do and what’s at stake. It will be all right."
The task now is trying to disrupt Alabama's offense, starting with quarterback AJ McCarron.
"You change the game when you get to the quarterback," Ford said. "That was the key last game. We had them on their heels, and they became very predictable. Our offense was able to put points up pretty early. We got three-and-outs. That's definitely what you want to do – to have to make them throw the ball to get back in the game.
"That's definitely what we've got to do against AJ McCarron. He hasn't been hit all year, so we want to see what he can do after being hit a few times."
The last game was a 43-38 win over Georgia. The Tigers disrupted Aaron Murray early, but he staged a fourth-quarter rally, passed for more than 400 yards and was trying to throw into the end zone on the last play of the game – until Ford smashed into him just as he let the ball go.
Now, Auburn will try to slow down McCarron, who is being talked up for the Heisman Trophy.
"No, we’re not trying to take that from him. We want to stop him," Ford said. "I’m not thinking about him not winning the Heisman."
But, "He’s not going to come in here and just have his way."
Ford has come a long way from early in the season. He didn't play in the first two games because of a sore knee. Now, he's ready to finish the regular season on a high note.
"I’m sitting in my room, I’m thinking of things. It’s a mindset," he said. "I’ve had that mindset since high school; that’s just the way I play. There’s really no switch to flip. It’s just a way of playing. That’s how I got here. I’ve taken that to another level. I'm never thinking about playing hard; I just do that every play."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine