While watching film of No. 2 Alabama, Daverin Geralds saw plenty of footage that was part horror show, part complex equation.
The Crimson Tide (6-0) have provided opponents a plethora of examples displaying how not to do things. The difficulties are evident, and Alabama's record and gaudy run defense numbers show just how tough the task will be Saturday at 2:30 in front of a CBS national audience.
But during his studies, Geralds also saw some other things, and while they are few and far between, there is room to get the Tide on their heels and pave the way with the run game. And that tactic starts with the opening series. The Rebels' center says setting the tone might be the most important part of braving Bryant-Denny.
"We have to be physical, and on that first drive, let them know we are going to hit them in the mouth," Geralds said. "Kentucky did a good job of running right at them, being physical going after them. It is going to be a fistfight all night."
Alabama is second nationally in run defense, allowing around 50 yards per outing, and the biggest reason – literally – for the dominance is Gulf Coast Community College transfer Terrence Cody. The 6-5, 365-pound behemoth is enough of a challenge due to his size, but Cody is also impressively agile. Supposedly, he can dunk a basketball.
The nose guard, who has 15 tackles including 3.5 for loss, will be head up on Geralds, so the center's own ability to be aggressive might dictate the afternoon. Alabama uses a 3-4 defense, so clearing out the nose tackle and releasing to the linebackers will be essential for the Rebels. Double teams will occur, but getting off the block is also crucial.
"He (Cody) is a big space eater and does well for that 3-4 front they use," Geralds said. "We have to make sure we get a hat on him and stay on him. Make sure he doesn't occupy two of us, and we get some movement on him."
Facing someone like Cody requires extreme discipline with fundamentals. Being out of position or losing proper footwork isn't an option.
"It is all about pad level, staying low and everything," Geralds said. "He's pretty big, and he does a good job of playing pad level. But if you stay low, you shouldn't have too much problem. I watched some film, and Georgia did a good job on him. You have to get that first step in, get him moving. That is pretty difficult sometimes, but it is possible."
National pundits are placing Cody in a class by himself thanks to the rare blend of size and quickness, but Geralds gets to see a close example on a daily basis.
"The guy I go against everyday in practice, Jerrell Powe," Geralds said. "He (Cody) is pretty much like a Powe, maybe a little bit bigger, but they are about the same size. That's who I can best compare him to."
From a team standpoint, Geralds is itching for competition after the bye week. The Florida win is still fresh, and one more opportunity to make a splash is near. Houston Nutt is known for having his teams ready to slay Goliaths, and the upcoming test is no different.
"Florida week was letting us know that nobody gave us a chance, we had to act poised and execute the game plan," Geralds said. "He doesn't really mention rankings, but we know them. Although rankings mean nothing in this league.
"They will have their antennas up for us. Nobody will be sleepy when we come in. We have to make sure we are prepared."
Offensive line faces big test versus Bama
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