Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Sports

January 4, 2013

NOTRE DAME FOOTBALL: For the defense

Irish face big challenge from potent Bama offense

MIAMI — When Fighting Irish senior safety Zeke Motta boarded the charter flight for South Florida, it was less than 20 degrees in South Bend and snow continued to blanket the Notre Dame campus.

When his flight landed it was sunny and nearly 80 degrees as the No. 1 Irish arrived at the Fort Lauderdale airport in preparation for Monday night’s BCS National Championship game against No. 2 Alabama at Sun Life Stadium in Miami.

“It’s good to be back,” said Motta, who hails from Vero Beach, Fla. “You dream about this moment and this opportunity. It’s amazing and a blessing.”

Be careful what you wish for. The heralded Irish defense, ranked No. 1 in points allowed (10.33 per game), must warm to the challenge of matching up with an Alabama offense that is one of the most balanced in the country.

In 2012, Alabama, led by quarterback AJ. McCarron, has rushed for 2,920 yards and passed for 2,788, a difference of just 132 yards.

Alabama, shooting for its second consecutive national championship and third in four years, is also incredibly efficient in “red zone” situations, putting points on the board 51 out of 57 trips inside an opponent’s 20 yard line.

Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator Bob Diaco, recently awarded the Broyles award for the top assistant coach in the country, said the secret to Bama’s offensive balance is McCarron who is a two-year starter and already has a national title notched in his belt.

“He’s the driver,” Diaco said Thursday morning. “He’s the coach on the field and puts them in the right spots. … (McCarron) conducts the game just like if (head coach) Nick Saban was taking the snap himself. I mean, he doesn’t put the team in bad spots. He doesn’t make poor decisions with the ball.”

That analysis has teeth in McCarron’s 24-2 record during his two seasons running the show in Tuscaloosa. He has thrown 26 touchdowns and just three interceptions this year, making him the most efficient quarterback in the country.

Balance that with the explosive rushing tandem of Eddie Lacy (1,182 yards) and T.J. Yeldon (1,000 yards) and the challenge intensifies further for the Irish.

“Both backs are just tremendous runners,” Motta said. “Lacy in particular is a strong, big back and is the run-you-over type, so we’ve had to prepare for that these past six weeks. We’ll be ready.”

A glance at the national statistical rankings seems to point to a classic match-up between a smart and effective offense and a staunch and dominant defense.

The Crimson Tide rank second overall in passing efficiency, 16th overall in rushing yards per game (224) and 13th in scoring offense (38.5 points per game). Notre Dame ranks fourth in rushing yards allowed (94 per game) and 21st in pass efficiency defense. But it’s how the Irish keep opponents out of the end zone that has Alabama Offensive Coordinator Doug Nussmeier concerned.

“The biggest thing is they lead the nation in scoring defense,” Nussmeier said Thursday. “They’re giving up 10.3 points per game and they do a great job of keeping you out of the end zone. The goal of the game is to score points.”

Earlier this season the Notre Dame defense – anchored by all-world linebacker Manti Te’o – held six consecutive opponents to under 300 yards of total offense. The Irish didn’t allow a rushing touchdown this season until Oct. 27 against No. 7 Oklahoma.

The Irish have also come up with big plays via sacks and takeaways. Te’o is second in the nation in interceptions with seven and defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt is seventh in the country with 12 sacks. That ranks him just 1.5 behind ND single-season leader Justin Tuck (2003). Tuck is now an all-pro defensive end for the New York Giants and owner of two Super Bowl rings.  

Notre Dame’s explosiveness on defense is not lost on McCarron.

“(Notre Dame) does a really good job of making big plays on the defensive side,” McCarron said. “Most of the time you’re thinking going into the game you have to win with big offensive plays. But, their defense makes a lot of big plays too.”

And then there’s Te’o.

“Manti always seems to find the ball, as do all great players on defense,” Nussmeier said. “You look at the interceptions, the tackles, he always seems to be around the ball. He has great natural instincts and is a phenomenal athlete. It’s going to be very important that we know where he is at all times.”

That has been a difficult trick off the field this post-season as Te’o jetted across the county, attending awards program after awards program on his way to becoming the most decorated college football player in history, winning the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award along with every major defense award for 2012. Te’o finished second to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manzeil in the Heisman balloting. He received the most votes ever by an exclusively defensive player.

On the field, Te’o has developed into the premier pass coverage linebacker in college, collecting seven interceptions his senior year. He didn’t have any his first three years.

Te’o and the Irish secondary will have their hands full with an Alabama passing game that averages just 214 yards passing per game, but is second in the country in passing efficiency.

Nussmeier believes the Notre Dame defense is very comparable to the top defenses in the SEC.

“This is as good a front seven as we’ve seen,” Nussmeier said. “They do a great job of jumping in and out of their odd defense and going from an odd to a four-down front. … They’re just a really, really good defense.”

While Te’o has made such a significant jump in pass coverage, he hasn’t relented on stopping the run, collecting a team high 103 tackles, five for a loss and recovering two fumbles. The senior captain also spearheaded goal-line stands against Stanford and USC that helped propel the Irish to this point.

As usual, he says he looks forward to going up against the nation’s best in Yancy and Yeldon.

“It’s football at its finest,” Te’o said, “This is an opportunity we’ve been waiting for for a long time.”

 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • GN140419 louie stout column mug OUTDOOR COLUMN: A steelhead run bonanza in Michiana Looking for a bright side to this ridiculous winter and spring weather? Look no farther than the St. Joseph River steelhead run. Apparently, this crazy spring weather has been just what the doctor ordered for steelhead anglers. It extended the run an

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • OUTDOOR COLUMN: Grackles: Like'em or leave 'em Seeing a grackle, I read in "Birds of America," is "one of the surer signs that spring is at hand. Surer, that is, than seeing a robin, a red-winged blackbird or a song sparrow. But I saw grackles last month, not long after I saw robins, redwings and

    April 20, 2014

  • GN140420 david vantress column mug THE SKINNY: Spring's arrival welcomed gratefuly GOSHEN Well, hello there, Indiana spring! Better late than never, I suppose. After probably the most brutal winter I have endured since first moving to the Midwest in 1998, spring has finally sprung across the area. Over the course of many years as a

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Broncos Manning Football [Duplicate] NFL: Manning meeting with Saban questioned ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Peyton Manning's never-ending quest to hone his game and Nick Saban's desire to decipher fast-paced offenses led to a recent meeting that the Crimson Tide coach called mutually beneficial. It also might have violated NFL rules be

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wizards Celtics Basketball-3 [Duplicate] [Duplicate] NBA: Resilient Bulls brace for next obstacle: Wizards DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Never mind all they overcame. The only obstacle that matters now for the Chicago Bulls is the one in front of them. The Bulls head into Sunday's playoff opener against the Washington Wizards as one of the hottest teams in the NBA.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140420 bgolf nw glaser IT'S TEE TIME GOSHEN -- Scores at Saturday's Goshen Invitational at Maplecrest Country Club were a bit higher than area prep boys golf coaches like to see them at this early stage of the season. But with the later start to the season due to a long winter, conditi

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

  • PREP TRACK AND FIELD: Penn the big winner at Cripe Relays MIDDLEBURY -- It was a clean sweep for Penn High School in the "Carmon Cripe" Northridge Relays for boys and girls track on Saturday. Penn took the girls title with 85 1/2 points, followed by Fairfield 51, East Noble 48 1/2, Elkhart Central 41, Conco

    April 19, 2014

  • Blackhawks Blues Hockey-6 [Duplicate] Blues beat Blackhawks 4-3 in OT, take 2-0 lead ST. LOUIS — Vladimir Tarasenko and St. Louis were in trouble Saturday before a vicious hit by Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook provided an opening for the Blues. That little crack was all St. Louis needed to put another dent in the Blackhawks' bid

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140418 bulls-gibson Improved Gibson proves key for Bulls' success DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Taj Gibson flashed back to the grueling workouts in the searing Southern California heat last summer. There he was with Derrick Rose, running and jumping and trying to take his game to another level for the Chicago Bulls while thei

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140418 base nr-wv kennedy PREP BASEBALL: A pitcher's duel EMMA -- The pitchers were dominant early on until the offenses could getting things going in a high school baseball game between the Northridge Raiders and the Westview Warriors Friday night at Westview. Both starting pitchers hurled four innings of

    April 19, 2014 2 Photos

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Poll

There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

I think it’s an excellent idea that is way overdue
I think it’s a bad idea and would be restrictive for students and parents.
     View Results