Well, really, all you're doing is dashing at the exact moment that your focus attack is hitting. For FADC into ultra, you're literally just Focusing to level 2 or 3, hitting, dashing to cancel the animation(which works EXACTLY like canceling a normal attack into a special), and then doing an ultra as normal. For characters like Cody who have simple 236236 Ultras, it's one of the easier things you can do, as opposed to say, landing a 720 Ultra during the dash forward or doing ANYTHING after an FADC with a charge character.
And Criminal Upper is fucking fantastic. It combos after nearly all his comboable normals. You absolutely HAVE to master c.LK -> LP Upper, it is mandatory to be able to do that on reaction. It's also very important to learn the properties of each of his Ruffian Kicks, and to know when a given one is appropriate for a situation(For example, HK version not only sets up juggles in the corner, but is also a decent anti-air, but only against an opponent who has not jumped far enough. You can use it to seriously punish poor players who don't know how to move without jumping).
And you are also correct in your assumption that Cody wants to be on the offensive. He has very few tools to get him safetly out of pressure on himself, he's very momentum oriented. You need to keep the pressure on from start to finish if you want to win with him. Learn your block strings, learn to read opponents early and how to punish them, and definitely learn every single possible way to maximize every piece of damage you do. Cody should have some seriously mean link combos if he's anything even remotely like his Alpha version, so look into that especially.
Edit: I haven't had a lot of time to play with it, but I heavily suspect that Cody's knife is going to be really important to his overall gameplan. In Alpha, you had to keep Cody away from his knife at all costs, not because all his punches cause chip damage while he has it (which was one factor, granted), but because it gave his already great block/pressure strings added range, the only limiting factor Cody had. I also know that in Alpha you could link up most of the knife attacks, so if you so much as landed an LP with the knife you could guarantee some serious fucking damage, which could then be added onto with chip damage from a follow-up block string. I dunno if he's got any knife links now, but it's something worth checking into.