Seniors Step Up For 2-0 Alabama

Each in his own way, Terrence Cody and Mike McCoy sparked the Alabama defense and offense respectively in the No. 4 Crimson Tide's 40-14 win over Florida International Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Mike McCoy may have been the biggest surprise for Alabama. He came on after a bruised knee suffered by star Julio Jones on a first quarter reverse, and McCoy proceeded to haul in 100 yards receiving on five first-half grabs. Jones spent the rest of the game icing his right knee, but left the field looking like a man who would likely play again in the very near future.

Saturday, he wasn't needed, thanks to McCoy and company.

Though not made available for the media post-game, McCoy's teammates had plenty to say about the breakout game he had. That list starts with his best friend off the field.

"Mike is obviously one of my best friends, and we threw all summer," said quarterback Greg McElroy, who himself finished a sizzling 18-24 for 241 yards and one score. "I have a really good feeling about being on the same page with him. I spend a lot of time with him, both off the field and on.

"He understood that when he got his opportunity, he would need to step up and make plays. Some things haven't gone his way (injury-wise), but when given the opportunity to make plays, he did that tonight. I was really proud of him, and the effort he put out there, and the effort he made to get open."

One of the times McCoy got open resulted in a 24-yard scoring pass from his pal.

"Mike is a senior, and he did his job," said fellow receiver Earl Alexander, who himself caught a pair of passes for 20 yards. "We look to (McCoy) as a leader on the team.

"Oh man, Mike. The Lord just made a way for him to have an opportunity to get in there and make some great plays for us. When they called his number, he was ready, and he did a great job."

"You never know when you're number is going to be called," said senior guard Mike Johnson . "(McCoy) puts in a lot of hard work during the week, and tonight it paid off."

The Head Coach noticed, too.

"Mike McCoy did a great job," said Nick Saban. "He caught the balls Julio would have caught. Most of what (McCoy) caught was what we had planned to throw to No. 8 (Jones)."

As for Terrence Cody, Saban says big number 62 is his new partner on team bus rides. "He says he sit there because last year, he wouldn't fit in the seat, and now he does," smiled Saban.

Cody is a man on a mission when he plops down by his head coach. He wants to be a pass-rusher.

"I talk to him about me staying in on third downs, and a lot of other things," Cody said.

Is it working? "I think it is, a little bit," Cody said. "I'm still trying to lose a little bit more weight, so hopefully, I can get in on third down. (Saban) wants me at 349 (pounds). Right now, I'm 354. I'm doing extra conditioning after practice, and more work in the weight room."

One thing is for sure: Cody is a force against the run on downs one and two. Saturday, he was credited with three total stops, but 2.5 of those were for losses totaling 5 yards. He helped the Tide defense limit the Golden Panthers to a paltry one net yard rushing.

"We've just got to go out there and play our ball, how we're supposed to play. Defensive line: we were playing. I felt in the first half, the defensive line could have played a lot better, especially rushing the passer . We turned in on in the second half, but we have to play like that in the first half, too. We have to play hard the whole game."

Bama led but 20-14 at the half, but then turned the heat up on FIU quarterback Paul McCall, and finished with five sacks for the second straight game. The pass rush was led by sophomore defensive end Marcel Dareus, who is becoming a force for the Tide stop troops. He had two sacks.

The Tide will next face North Texas in an 11:21 a.m. TV contest Saturday at home.

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