Cody Has To Make Name On Defense

Once upon a time, Alabama students were regarded as football savvy. Then they went through a period of things like "the wave" and they didn't show up for games. But faith was restored a fraction last week against LSU.

Alabama faced third down and a couple of yards to go at the North end of the field. against LSU. For the first time in several weeks, Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban sent Terrence Cody, Bama's massive nose tackle, into the game to take his place in the Bama backfield. A roar came up from the student section as Cody trotted onto the field.

Cody is a short yardage blocking specialist, and everyone knew what was about to happen.

Well, everyone except Julio Jones. Somehow Jones didn't notice Cody was in the game. Don't ask how one overlooks a 6-5, 354-pound man sticking his nose in the huddle. The bottom line is that Alabama was flagged for an illegal substitution because Jones didn't leave the game when Cody came in.

The result was Jones getting chewed out by a headset-tossing Saban and Alabama moving back to third-and-seven. That's not a Cody situation, so the big man trotted to the sidelines.

"Yeah, I was disappointed," Cody said. "This was like the third week, fourth week (that he didn't play on offene). But, you know, things happen. There‘s always the next opportunity in the next game."

Face it, Terrence. They are never going to let you carry the football, are they?

"You never know," Cody said. "It's a secret."

Alabama didn't use that gimmick, but that doesn't mean there was a shortage of gimmicks in the Crimson Tide's 24-15 win over LSU Saturday. Cody said the Alabama defense has to be prepared for everything.

"Yeah, " Cody said, "a lot of offenses try to find ways to beat us, try to beat us down, but we're going to buckle down and get things right."

Opponents aren't really having much success in trying to beat down the Alabama defense. Many consider the Tide to be the most physical team in the country. "That feels good," Cody said. "There are a lot of tough teams out there, like USC and Oklahoma, and to be known as the most physical is an honor."

Cody expects a physical game this week. Alabama, 9-0 overall and 6-0 in Southeastern Conference games, will play at Mississippi State Saturday. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. CST with television coverage by CBS. State expects to have a record crowd to host second ranked Bama.

"It was pretty physical last year but we're a lot more physical than we were last year and we're a lot better than we were last year," Cody said. "And hopefully they've gotten a lot better than they were last year and so it's going to be a physical game.

"They're a pretty tough team. They had good linemen and try to run the ball at you as many times as they can until they get some success. They're real physical up front with some tough running backs. They're a pretty good team."

Mississippi State under new Coach Dan Mullen, formerly offensive coordinator at Florida, runs a spread formation similar to that at Florida. Cody is not part of the defense in passing situations and has been eliminated from plans to some extent when opponents use a no-huddle offense.

"That's why I practice hard and get myself in better shape every day so I won't have to come out with those types of formations and types of teams that like to go to the spread," Cody said.

Cody got big news Tuesday. He is one of four finalists for the 40th Rotary Lombardi Award, which goes to the nation's top interior lineman or linebacker, the Rotary Club of Houston announced.

"It means a lot," Cody said following Tuesday's practice. "Not a lot of guys get picked for an award like this. I'm real happy to be in the top four. It's a blessing. I'm really representing our team because you don't get honors like this unless you have success as a team."

Cody joins TCU senior defensive end Jerry Hughes, Oklahoma junior defensive end Gerald McCoy and Nebraska senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as this year's finalists.

He is the seventh Crimson Tide player to be named a finalist for the Rotary Lombardi Award and the second in a row, joining left tackle Andre Smith, who was a finalist for the award in 2008. Former All-American linebacker Cornelius Bennett is the only Alabama player to win the Lombardi Award, capturing the honor in 1986.

The senior from Ft. Myers, Fla., has anchored an Alabama defensive front that has held opponents to 68.2 rushing yards per game, a figure that leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks second nationally. Cody's presence has also allowed the Tide defense to rank second in the SEC and fourth nationally in total defense (242.2 ypg) and second in the SEC and sixth nationally in scoring (10.1 ppg) defense.

In nine games, Cody has recorded 20 tackles, including five tackles for loss (-20 yards), while constantly going against double-teams. He has also added two blocked kicks, two quarterback pressures and one pass breakup.

Cody was named the National and SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week following his performance against Tennessee on October 24, where he tied the Alabama single-game record with two blocked field goals. He blocked a 44-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the game to preserve the Tide's 12-10 win. Earlier in the fourth quarter, he swatted away a 43-yard field goal attempt with the Tide holding a 9-3 lead with just over 10 minutes to play.

The four finalists were selected from a group of 12 semifinalists in a second round of national voting by the members of the Rotary Lombardi Award Selection Committee. That committee is comprised of nearly 500 voters, including all Division-I head coaches, all past finalists of the Rotary Lombardi Award, and a selection of writers and broadcasters from around the country. The award will be presented on December 9, 2009 in Houston.

Founded in the weeks following the 1970 death from cancer of legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, the Rotary Lombardi Award has consistently delivered upon the mission set forth by Marie Lombardi when she granted the use of her late husband's name. Her only stipulation was that all net proceeds from the event be donated to the American Cancer Society. Millions of dollars have been raised since that time.

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