Significance of Terrence Cody's Loss Evident in Alabama's Defensive Front

Parker ShieldsCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 5:  Terrence Cody #62 of the Alabama Crimson Tidecelebrates with his teammates after their 32-13 win against the Florida Gators during the SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome on December 5, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

It's not rare for a team to lose an All-American and then have a difficult time finding a player that can make the same kind of an impact. 

The absence of Terrence Cody due to graduation has made this statement even clearer to Alabama fans (and opposing offenses).

In Cody's first year in the program coming from junior college, the 6'5", 365-pound defensive tackle's mauling of opposing offensive lines resembled Godzilla's destruction of Tokyo.

Cody was the instrumental piece in Alabama's vastly improved rushing defense that went from giving up 128.4 rushing yards per game to only allowing 78.8 yards per contest. Many expected Cody to enter the 2009 NFL Draft, but partly due to a knee sprain he chose to come back for his senior season.

Cody was an unblockable force up the middle that demanded at least two blockers on each play, opening gaps for All-SEC linebackers Rolando McClain and Dont'a Hightower.

Even after Cody's remarkable junior campaign, Nick Saban thought that if Cody could shed a few pounds, his two-down dominance could be assisted with a pass rush. Cody responded by losing 10 pounds and eventually getting all the way down to a mere 349 pounds.

Cody's senior season was seen as a disappointment to some fans due to his unimpressive stats, but this was due to opponents' fear of running up the middle. Would you want to run up the middle straight into a Mack truck?

Although some saw his stats as less than spectacular, his five tackles for loss were an improvement from his total of 4.5 in 2008, not to mention those two blocked field goals against Tennessee that kept the whole state of Alabama from being placed on suicide watch.

When Terrence Cody's career in crimson was finally over, there was little doubt that the Crimson Tide would miss the mountain in the middle of its defense, but many people believed that the combination of Josh Chapman and Kerry Murphy would be sufficient against the run and could only bolster the pass rush.

Through eight games this season it has been rare to see many plays where either Murphy or Chapman have done anything but make fans miss Cody even more. 

So far Saban's defense is allowing an average of 113 yards per game, which, in the words of Charles Barkley, isn't "turrible," but it is a significant drop-off from the 78 rushing yards that Alabama allowed in 2009.

After the loss of Cody it was expected that Alabama's rush defense would have a few issues, but the emergence of Marcel Dareus and others was supposed to improve Bama's pass rush.

Although the fact that Cody was a two-down player made it seem like he had a minimal impact, he still took up two blockers when he was rushing the passer, giving players like Eryk Anders and Courtney Upshaw one-on-one matchups on the edge.

This season the Tide is on pace to finish the year with only 12 sacks, which would be 20 less than last year's total.

The lack of pass rush might just be a coincidence, but most likely Alabama is just missing the contributions of the one they called Mt. Cody.