Nick Saban addressed the world last night via his radio show and said this in response to a question by Phil Savage:
Saban cited some of the usual factors such as tackling, turnovers, control of the line of scrimmage and finishing. He said it’s impossible to carry over momentum from the regular season, so the team must approach this as a one-game season and play with passion and “tremendous mental toughness. At some point in the game, you have to take the game.”
Well said, coach Saban, well said.
This match up with Notre Dame reminds me most of games with LSU over the last few years. With LSU, there hasn’t been a lot of fancy stuff, mostly just smash-mouth football. Old man football. And that’s what we’ll see against the Irish. Sure, we may see the occasional hurry-up offense, but mostly, I think, we’ll see who can run the ball the best and who can protect their quarterback the best.
As I’ve said before, I believe the game for Notre Dame will fall on the shoulders of Everett Golson. If Golson can avoid poor decisions and be accurate on third downs, the Irish will be able to move the ball on Bama and it may be a long night.
Defensively, the Irish will load up to stop the run. We shouldn’t be fooled; we won’t be playing the Georgia defense Monday night. The Golden Domers may not be as talented as the Dawgs, but they are a better defense and will sell out to stop the Tide’s running game.
From Bama’s view point, stopping the run on first down and forcing second-and-long and third-and-long is a must. This, as mentioned above, puts the game on Golson’s shoulders and forces him to be the hero. To turn Golson into the goat, Alabama’s extra defensive backs – Geno Washington and Vinnie Sunseri – have to have good games. A high percentage night by Golson means they didn’t.
Offensively, it’ll be interesting to see how the Tide plays this one. The offensive line is better run blocking than pass blocking, but the Irish will load up to stop the run. Will the Tide force it’s will onto the Irish and run the ball anyway? Or will we put the game on McCarron’s back again and try to take advantage of an over matched Irish secondary? My guess here is that we try to play fast from the beginning, score quickly and put as much pressure as possible on the Notre Dame offense.
Tackling, turnovers and the line of scrimmage – again, all those matter. But as coach Saban also said, eventually to win the game you have to take it. We’ll see if our boys are up to the challenge.