Ford suffered a knee injury in a scrimmage on Aug. 10. Johnson said there was "no question" the senior defensive end will miss the opener against Washington State on Aug. 31, and it appears likely he could miss more games.
"Freak thing," Johnson said describing Ford's injury. " Someone's leg swung around ad hit him in the side. Not real, real bad. No surgery required."
Ford recorded 34 tackles, leading the team with six sacks, in seven starts and eleven games of action in 2012.
Johnson has not determined the starting lineup on the defensive line, but Ford's absence does open up an opportunity for five-star defensive end Carl Lawson and fellow freshman Elijah Daniel to contribute early.
"Looking toward the first game, we're trying to get those older guys, the veterans, prepped up to be the starters," Johnson said. "We don't want a true freshman in the starting roles. Elijah and Carl have come a long way, they're maybe two of our best pass rushers. They'll be situational players."
Both teams will be looking to bounce back from 3-9 finishes when the Tigers and Cougars take the field on Aug. 31. Washington State's first year under Mike Leach was bumpy, at best, but an overtime win against Washington in the Apple Cup has given fans reason to believe the Cougars will see improvement in 2013.