Tape It Up: Clemson: Clemson In, Ford Out

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Clemson: Clemson In, Ford Out

After beating Maryland 30-17 on Saturday, Clemson finds itself back in the AP Poll, at No. 25, and in the BCS rankings, also eeking in at the No. 25 spot. The problem is, they paid a big price to get there, in the form of sophomore speedster Jacoby Ford. The receiver broke his left ankle in the fourth quarter of the game, ending his season and letting some air out of the Tigers' tires.

The young receiver helped Clemson to deliver on running back James Davis' guarantee that the Tigers would win the game, catching three passes for 37 yards , returning two punts for 12 yards and adding 8 yards rushing before his ankle got trapped under Maryland linebacker Adrian Moten halfway through the fourth quarter.

The team's third-leading rusher behind one-two punch Davis and C.J. Spiller, Ford has 14 carries for 172 yards on the season, including a long run of 53. He has started five of the team's eight games. The consensus fastest player on the team, Ford ranks fourth on the team in receiving, with 17 receptions for 310 yards and four TDs. He averages more than 18 yards per catch and is second on the team in all-purpose yardage, accumulating more than 100 yards per game.

Ford really shines most on special teams, where he is the ACC's second-leading kickoff returner with an average of 26.4 yards, but with only eight returns this season, he will not be included in the league rankings.

Ford is unquestionably one of Clemson's best skill players, so it goes without saying that without him on the field, the Tigers will have to change how they pick their primary play options.

"We've got people who can catch it," head coach Tommy Bowden said. "We've got returners. Whoever replaces him ain't as fast, we know that."

It seems as though Ford's injury came just as the Tigers were getting their offensive balance to work in their favor, and they will now have to find a way to do so without the ACC's 60-meter indoor track champion.

Without Ford, junior Rendrick Taylor will most likely be back on the field earlier than expected, as he has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury. Hamstring, schmamstring - it's time to get this kid back on the field. As for special teams, freshman cornerback Marcus Gilchrist may see some time in Ford's absence.

Clemson is going to have to find some more ammunition on offense if they want to stay in the BCS rankings, especially with dates with Wake Forest and Boston College still looming large on their conference slate.

Two other starters were hurt against Maryland and are now questionable for Saturday. Defensive tackle Rashaad Jackson has a sprained knee and left guard Chris McDuffie has a sprained ankle.

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