Final Score: Alabama 21 – LSU 17
Zach Mettenberger- 24/35 298 yards 1 touchdown 0 interceptions
Jeremy Hill- 29 carries 107 yards 1 touchdown
Eddie Lacy- 11 carries 83 yards 1 touchdown
AJ McCarron- 14/27 165 yards 1 touchdown 0 interceptions and 1 rushing touchdown
The Crimson Tide will be switching between a 3-4 and 4-3 defensive schemes. Against tight ends Alabama tends to put one of their outside linebackers over them in running situations. In a 3-4 they will walk both outside backers up and in a 4-3 the linebackers will shift to the strong side and the outside strong side linebacker will now be over the tight end. At the beginning of the game they would always show man coverage, mainly for blitz packages. They are usually very good at disguising the blitz, but there were points in the 1st quarter that they would show it too soon and give the quarterback the opportunity to make his hot read and get the ball out quick. Coach Smart (defensive coordinator for Alabama) does a great job at getting his guys prepared to the point there are certain formations that LSU lines up in and they will automatically check to a different scheme. There are times LSU runs play actions, but all the linebackers don’t even react to the fake, because of their preparation. The one thing LSU tried to do when they came into the game was try and get outside on the defense and was not successful. If their outside linebackers lost contain they were still able to bow back and make they play for only a 1-3 yard gain. I did see them struggle to cover the running back out of the backfield, which is a strength for Notre Dame and with Theo Riddick as a great receiving back. Against motion the linebackers tend to get out of position and do not follow the motion well. Now when you pair motion and play action together is when you can really expose their defense.
Well the Alabama offense came into the game conservative, taking what the defense gave them, which wasn’t much at all. They like to give AJ McCarron the easy throws to start, especially the bubble route and in fact that is what they came out with against LSU. It wasn’t until the second quarter that the offense started to get going. Lacy started running the ball effectively and restarted the engine for the Crimson Tide with a touchdown. The underneath screen worked very well, which is when the wide receiver comes towards the quarterback for a quick thrown and gets up field. Again it’s the quick throws that lead to big plays for the Tide and with these being successful it makes the defense tighten up to prevent the short throws. Now McCarron showed why he has only lost 2 games as a starter, when he led his team down the field at the end to beat LSU. For Notre Dame to have a chance at winning they must force McCarron to make mistakes throwing the football, or put enough pressure on him that he can’t complete many passes. Alabama will run the ball, and if they run it well they will beat Notre Dame. If the Irish can contain Alabama and force turnovers then the defense will lead them to a victory.
You look at this game and wonder how Alabama won. LSU dominated time of possession, but didn’t capitalize when it needed to. T.J. Yeldon the freshman was the difference in this game, while not only scoring the winning touchdown, but giving the Alabama offense a start in the second quarter. Notre Dame’s offense is capable of scoring on this defense, but it starts up front and with Alabama having so much depth, Coach Kelly must have the perfect game plan to expose their weaknesses on defense. Defensively, with AJ McCarron struggling against Texas A&M and Georgia, Notre Dame should have a sample size of things to keep the Crimson Tide out of the endzone. Contain the run, and make McCarron throw the ball into coverage when under pressure. Keep the play calling on the offensive side of the ball wide open. Everyone knows that Notre Dame can be predicable at times on offense, well it’s all or nothing for the National Championship, so open up that playbook.