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Beefing Up for Mount Cody

Late Monday night, Beau Warren ate a large cheese pizza. By himself.

Warren said the meal not only satisfied his hunger, but that it also might pay dividends Saturday, when No. 7 Virginia Tech takes on No. 5 Alabama in Atlanta. Warren, the Hokies’ center, will be lined up against Crimson Tide nose guard Terrence Cody, the nearly unblockable 6-foot-5, 354-pound anchor on the defensive line.

“It’s very intimidating,” Warren, who is 6-3 and 288 pounds, said of watching Cody on film. “He’s a great player.”

How Virginia Tech handles Cody, an all-American, and the Crimson Tide’s talented front seven could go along way in determining its success on Saturday. The Hokies’ offensive linemen have been a source of concern in the past, but they talked this summer about how the unit has started to jell. Alabama will provide an ample test.

The Crimson Tide has a stout defensive line, even though end Brandon Deaderick, who was shot in the forearm in an attempted robbery Monday, is not expected to play. His likely replacement, sophomore Marcell Dareus, is 6-4 and possesses a lot of physical tools. And with Rolando McClain and Dont’a Hightower, Alabama has some of the nation’s best linebackers.

But it all starts up front with Cody.

“I don’t think I’ve ever known anybody that big,” Virginia Tech Coach Frank Beamer said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “If you can imagine 354 pounds and agile, can bend his body and good feet and then you try to move that object. It’s not an easy thing to do. He certainly affects the game.”

Cody gained a reputation that might sound like folklore – he goes by the nickname Mount Cody, and some say he cannot be blocked by just one lineman – but it is true.

Cody came to Alabama after playing at Mississippi Gulf Coast College. He dominated there but drew little interest because he was overweight at 410 pounds. Alabama’s gamble paid off. Last season, Cody had 24 tackles and 4 1/2 sacks but changed the game in ways not necessarily traceable on a stats sheet.

With his massive frame, Cody, a senior, occupies spaces in the middle of Alabama’s 3-4 defense. He makes the scheme difficult to block. A team can commit two blockers to try to handle Cody, but that frees up one a linebacker to blitz or stop the run. Or a team can gamble and leave one blocker on Cody.

Asked how to handle Cody, Warren said: “You’ve got to get off the ball, get your butt down and get a good base. And do your best.”

Warren will be joined in the task inside by guards Jaymes Brooks, making his second start, and Sergio Render, a second-team all-ACC selection last year.

Although Warren will be making only his third start, he has some experience against talented tackles. In 2007, Warren faced Boston College’s B.J. Raji and Ron Brace. Raji was a first-round draft pick by the Green Bay Packers in April, while Brace went in the second round to the New England Patriots.

Despite the jumbo-size task ahead of the offensive line on Saturday, Warren said the Hokies did not alter their game plan much to account for Cody. Except, of course, for bulking up with a few extra slices of pizza.

By Mark Viera  |  September 3, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
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