Cody Benefited From Open Date

Thanksgiving is a time when family gathers together. In the case of the Nick Saban family, that includes a few extras. The Crimson Tide football "family" will practice a little early Thursday so those Bama players whose homes aren't too far from Tuscaloosa can go to their homes for the holiday. As for the others, they'll join the Sabans for Thanksgiving dinner.

Fort Myers, Fla., doesn't fall into the "hour or two" time constraint for Alabama players' travel. That means Terry Saban has to find a wide spot at the table for one Terrence Cody, the 6-5, 365-pound Crimson Tide nose tackle. It may be a good thing that Cody will have his head coach watching the portions of turkey, dressing, etc. The big man has worked too hard to blow it all at this point in the season.

This point in the season is a couple of days before Alabama finishes regular season play, hosting Auburn in Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide, 11-0 and ranked first in the nation, hosts Auburn, 5-6, at 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday. CBS will televise the game.

While the Sabans are accommodating Cody and a few dozen other Tide players, there is reason to believe Auburn offensive players will be less pleased to see the Bama junior.

Saban said that Alabama's open date last week had been beneficial for a handful of Tiders who were "nicked" up. One of those was Cody, who had been injured against Ole Miss, missed a couple of games, and had not looked to be full speed in the Tide's last two outings.

The time off, Saban said, "has gotten him to the next level. He looks like the Terrence of old. He's getting off the ball quick and playing fast. He has improved each week since he came back and this open week helped dramatically."

Prior to last year, Alabama had its open date following the Auburn game. Beginning with the 2007 season the Southeastern Conference decided all teams would play a game the week prior to the SEC Championship Game. Alabama is playing in that SEC title game Dec. 6 and Saban was asked if he would have preferred to have the open date this week. Predictably, he said, "It doesn't matter. It is what it is. As a coach, it's a matter of how you manage what you have. We were fortunate to have a bye week when we did. But we didn't have a choice, so it doesn't matter."

Saban also said there were no new injuries, meaning Bama should be healthy for the game.

He said the 2008 Alabama team has "chemistry that has been a real positive. It started in the off-season conditioning program last winter and continued through summer workouts. The guys have bought in. We don't have a lot of guys dancing to a different drummer. You have to have trust in one another and this team has that. Togetherness and the ability to respond to adverse circumstances have been positives."

Saban does not indicate being an optimist or a pessimist. He does seem to be a pragmatist. Asked about the importance of ending Auburn's six-game winning streak, Saban said, "It's an important game, a big game. It's important to our players and to us and to our fans. Regardless (of the outcome), we're going to continue to work to be the dominant team in the SEC. It's not going to change the direction of where we're going.

"We're going to have another game after that, and we'll have to respond to that challenge as well."

The week after the Auburn game, Alabama will meet Florida on Dec. 6 in the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta for the SEC championship.

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