By Molly Merrell
Lincoln -- Communication is an important aspect of the Huskers? game plan. The players have to hear the plays called in order to understand their roles on the field.
The coaches have to relay changes in action when they see the formation of the opposing team. The players have to speak to each other on and off the field, to let a player know what needs to be fixed, or to congratulate a teammate on a great play.
"It?s important to congratulate someone or let them know that they need to step up for the team," said senior right guard Wes Cody.
Cody knows the importance of communication. He is a communication studies major from Fremont, Neb., who will graduate in December 2002.
And it?s not just Cody who is vocal. The entire offensive line has to speak up and keep encouraging the players who get frustrated or get down about a certain play.
The Cody File
"We want to build an explosive offense," Cody said. "In order to reestablish ourselves into a dominating offensive line, not just physically, but mentally as well, we need to make some improvements."
One of the improvements the offensive line has already made this year is in communicating with each other.
According to Offensive Line Coach Milt Tenopir, communication is a big part of the game for the O-line.
"There are a lot of line calls before each play," Tenopir said. "Everyone has to make the calls and they need to be decided on in a hurry. There?s more complexity to playing on the offensive line than just going out and hitting a guy. You have to hit the right guy and there needs to be a lot of communication between the players on the line for that to happen."
At the beginning of the year, Cody felt the offensive line was more timid than last year?s line because of the lack of experience. After losing three starters, including 2001 Outland finalist Toniu Fonoti, co-captain Dave Volk and center Jon Rutherford, it?s understandable that the O-line would be less dominant at the start of the season.
"We?re getting better every week and guys have learned to step up and vocalize what needs to be done instead of standing around and not saying anything," Cody said.
Rutherford, who is also Cody?s roommate, has been a big influence on Cody during his career. Rutherford taught Cody the importance of the mental aspect of the game and how to deal with different scenarios. He also told Cody to lead by example, and that he didn?t have to be so vocal. His actions would speak volumes, Rutherford said.
And that?s exactly what Cody has in mind.
"My main goal this year is to keep people motivated, but not just by talking to them. I have been mostly trying to lead by example," Cody said.
Tenopir said Cody has been a leader with actions and words so far this season.
"For the last three years, Wes had been a big contributor for us and he will continue to be a leader by how hard he works," Tenopir said.
In those three years, Cody has worked hard on the O-line, learning technique and schemes to be ready when called to action. Along the way, he has gained 75 pounds and has become one of the strongest players on the team.
"He is very competitive and has excellent strength and mobility, which makes him a great leader on the line," Tenopir said. "He?s not the most vocal player, but he knows how to lead without speaking."
So where does Cody see the offensive line at the end of the year?
"By the end of the season, if we keep improving and helping each other out, then I think we?ll be able to establish the offense better and dominate any team we face," Cody said.
"We?re going to play our part for this team."
As for life after Husker football, Cody plans to weigh his options, although he is hopeful for a chance to continue playing in the NFL.
"If that doesn?t work out, I?ll get a job as an insurance salesman," Cody said.