Slimmed Down Cody Could Be Improved

A few weeks ago Alabama nose tackle Terrence Cody was talking about his fame. Not bragging, just reporting on various encounters with fans (which he enjoys). The subject came up again this week. In answer to a question, Cody described meeting someone and then listening as the fan called a friend to describe the encounter.

"Have you signed anything unusual?" a reporter asked, no doubt thinking back to an earlier discussion. Terrence Cody said that after Alabama's 36-0 win over Auburn "this drunk woman wanted me to sign her chest." (He autographed her shirt.)

"I was in the cafeteria the other day and this guy came up to me and asked for my autograph and had me sign a five dollar bill," Cody said.

That begged the question: "Terrence, when you were in that cafeteria, could you think of any better use for that five dollar bill?"

"Yeah," he said. "I could have bought me a chicken sandwich."

No one doubts that 6-foot-5 Terrence Cody can handle a meal. The good news is that he has been able to push away from enough of those meals—the bad ones, anyway—to "slim down" (his words) to 354 pounds.

Cody has made his conditioning a priority, and Alabama Coach Nick Saban has noticed. This week Saban pointed out that Cody had been injured. "He wasn't in as good a shape when he came back," the coach said. "He played extremely well prior to that."

The Tide coach has made it clear that Cody must be in good condition "so he can sustain his play and play with consistency. Hopefully by getting him in a little better condition he'll be able to sustain that.

"If we can improve his mobility a little bit, he might become a little better pass rusher for us, push the pocket in the middle, which to me is the most important thing about the pass rush -- push the pocket in the middle so the quarterback can't step up and attack the middle of the field. Since one of our goals is defending the middle of the field, to have guys that can do that is very important.

"He could do it last year, but he couldn't sustain it and we're going to need for him to be able to do it. We think he's made a tremendous amount of progress towards that. He's had a tremendous spring. He's probably in the best shape he's been in in a long time. He's got his weight down a little more. He understands the system a lot better. So I've been pleased with the way he's improved."

This year Cody is on the watch list (along with teammate linebacker Rolando McClain) for the Lott Trophy, given to nation's top defensive player. Cody was a consensus All-America selection from his nose guard position after making 24 tackles with 4.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He was a disruptive force anchoring the middle of the Tide defensive line. Cody was also a semifinalist for the 2008 Bednarik Award and a unanimous first-team All-SEC choice.

His statistics were not overwhelming, yet Cody was recognized as one of the nation's best players as Alabama went 12-2 last season.

"Whether he makes a lot of tackles or not, he affects the game," said Tide teammate defensive end Brandon Deaderick. "He takes up a lot of blockers. It doesn't matter for us who we have in on third down, but it will help him personally if he's able to play late in the game. He can push the pocket. He's not a slow guy. He wasn't slow last year, and he's moving better this year."

Cody said he is wearing a knee brace in practice for precautionary reasons, but that he is completely recovered from the sprained knee that kept him out of a couple of games last season.

Cody had been asked about freshman defensive lineman Kerry Murphy and the report that Murphy can do a back flip. Cody didn't address Murphy's agility, but proclaimed, "I can do a back flip."

The 6-4, 287-pound Deaderick said, "I've never seen Cody do a back flip, but he still surprises me with his athleticism. I'm a pretty big guy who can move, but he's a REALLY big guy who can move."

"I'm way better from the standpoint of conditioning and stamina," Cody said. "I went through the fourth quarter program, which was a big help. The guys who had been here last year and went through it made it sound like hell. It was tough the first day, but as you go through it, you get better as you get in shape."

He said he is quicker off the ball and better as a pass rusher than he was last year. And his motivation is he wants to win a championship.

Cody said practice this year is different because last year's offensive line was a veteran group and this year the line is being rebuilt. "They are young and they've got a lot to get done," he said. "But they have some good players."

Cody goes daily against center William Vlachos, who is trying to replace graduated All-America Antoine Caldwell. "He's a pretty good center," Cody said of Vlachos. "Of course, Antoine was the best I've ever gone against. But Vlachos is strong and has strong hands and is quick off the ball. He tells me I'm pretty tough on him."

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