Cody Wallace Not Overmatched In First Start

By Matthew Marczi

It’s usually not a good thing when you’re forced to start your third different center of the season. It’s even worse when that third starting center—and fourth center overall—is making his first start in his professional career.

That’s the predicament the Steelers found themselves in with Cody Wallace this week, and no doubt there were times that he looked like a guy making his first start—though at other times he looked like a proctologist, except he is the one being ‘handed’ the bill for the examination.

Overall though, I must say that Wallace handled himself well given the circumstances, and most importantly, he didn’t look overmatched. He looked like he belonged out there, and he won his share of battles. That’s about all you can ask out of a guy making his first start 13 games into the season.

Obviously, it got off to a rough start for him, as he gave up a deep pressure/partial sack to nose tackle Paul Soliai on the second play of the afternoon. Soliai started off by charging his right shoulder, but then gave Wallace a wicked club with his right arm to blow by him. Wallace did what he could to hold on as Soliai pushed his way backward, though it was Randy Starks ultimately getting the sack.

It seemed as though it would be a long day from that point on but it did get better from there. It was certainly an ebb and flow affair. For example, later on the same drive he handled Soliai against the run on his own, allowing Le’Veon Bell to breeze by him for a nice chunk of yardage.

This play is not quite as impressive as it may first appear—as it looks like he gets a pancake on the nose tackle on a running play. It started off with a chip by Ramon Foster, and then Wallace worked Soliai up the back of David DeCastro, tripping over him, and actually injuring his ankle and forcing him to come out of the game. still, it’s a fine play for the center.

Unfortunately, the day ended as it began, contributing to another sack. Olivier Vernon crashed down inside hard as Wallace was monitoring the other inside rusher and was taken so off-balance that he got spun around.

That left DeCastro in a no-win situation, as Marcus Gilbert also got beaten by Cameron Wake. In the end he didn’t help on either as the two combined for a sack. Add in his two penalties and there’s enough of a story there to trash your new starting center. But it wouldn’t be the full story, nor would it take the circumstances into account. Let’s see what he does this week.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • dgh57

    I was kinda expecting the way he played given it was his 1st start since being drafted in 2008. Wallace has his chance now due to injury to make a impression on the coaches so he better make the best of it and I think the next 3 games will tell a better story as to what we have as a backup Center. He may end up making the decision of who to keep around, Velasko or Wallace, as our backup Center a hard one.

  • 20Stoney

    I do like that he mauled the guy once he had him on the ground. Not a bad trait.

  • cencalsteeler

    I, for one, have found myself on the Cody Wallace bandwagon. He’s got two weeks to keep me from jumping off. I’m pulling for him and hope he creates a nice little scenario for the coaches to mull over in the off season.

  • Matthew Marczi

    He’s got a bit of nasty in him it seems.

  • dgh57

    If Wallace should play really good these last few games who gets resigned and how do you see the backups on the interior OL playing out between Velasko, Wallace, and Embernate next year? One of these guys is out because we need a backup OT. Velasko may be the guy out because he will likely cost the most.

  • Matthew Marczi

    Tough to say considering it’s a long way off, of course. Velasco has a long recovery ahead of him. The Steelers will have the most knowledge about his recovery, given that he’ll be rehabbing with the team’s doctors, so that would be a slight advantage. Yet at the same time, even despite the injury he’ll probably still be looking for a starting job. What happens at the tackle positions could also come into play, because Beachum can play everywhere, while the other two are only tackles. I’d imagine they’d like to get all parties in camp (with Velasco on a one-year, non-guaranteed contract) if possible and let them all compete. I will say I’m interested in Embernate, though his inability to play center isn’t favorable. He was promoted to second-team just before he tore his ACL, so there’s reason for optimism there.

  • dgh57

    We have a chance to have really solid depth on the OL next year and that’s something we couldn’t say going into this season. That doesn’t include anyone we pick up this off season.

  • walter mason

    he is not intimidated

  • HopalongCassidy

    Agreed but I really want to see the Steelers pick up a quality FA OT.