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September 17, 2008
Men in the middle
"If they do, it might be a mistake."
Those were the words of Terrence Cody Tuesday when asked if Arkansas will try to block him one-on-one Saturday with center Jonathan Luigs - one of the SEC's elite offensive linemen - when Alabama visits the Razorbacks.
Cody is anything but a trash-talker, but he isn't short on confidence, either. In fact, it's growing by the game. And the battle between Luigs and the 365-pound Cody is the most highly anticipated individual matchup in the game.
"The big nose guard inside is very physical and takes up a lot of room. I have been impressed with his athletic ability," Arkansas coach Bob Petrino said earlier this week. "He can shed blocks and make plays, and he's a big load."
Luigs was the co-winner of the Jacobs Trophy last season - along with Alabama tackle Andre Smith - as the top offensive lineman in the conference. Considered a likely NFL first-round pick, Luigs will be the toughest challenge Cody has faced in game action - this season or any other.
That isn't lost on Cody.
"I'm looking forward to that. That's going to be a good matchup. He's good, I'm good, so it's the matchup of the day," Cody said.
Whether Luigs can handle Cody is among the game's key factors. Through three games, Alabama opponents have almost exclusively double-teamed him, resulting in easier playmaking for the Tide's linebackers. On the rare occasions when teams have tried to single-block Cody, the result has been disruption in the offensive backfield.
Despite the double-teaming, Cody is Alabama's statistical leader among defensive linemen with 10 tackles, including three for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Though he has yet to record a sack, he's made more stops than starting ends Brandon Deaderick and Bobby Greenwood combined.
Asked Monday about the possibility of Luigs trying to handle Cody by himself, Alabama coach Nick Saban declined to speculate on the Razorbacks' defensive gameplan. Double-teamed or not, Cody is preparing for a stiff test in Fayetteville.
"He's just real quick - he's quick off the ball," Cody said of Luigs. "He snaps it and he's out of the gate. I've got to be ready with my footwork."
DAVIS ON RETURN - Alabama right guard Marlon Davis spoke about his hamstring injury Tuesday, and expects to return to the lineup against the Razorbacks.
"I've just been practicing hard; that's the best way to get used to the speed of game. I think I'll be ready," Davis said.
Davis, a senior from Columbus, Ga., was injured early against Tulane and sat out last week as David Ross made his second career start.
"He came in and did an awesome job," Davis said of Ross. "He's a smart guy that knows the offense and he's a tough dude. I'm proud of him. He did great."