I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the BCS National Championship game in Miami, Florida this year. As a kid with no collegiate allegiance, I jumped on the Notre Dame bandwagon in high school and have been a fan ever since. This year I boarded the plane with the idea that at the very least I could tailgate and watch the game on TV, taking in the atmosphere. At the last minute, we got entrance into the stadium and were able to watch the entire game. Over the next three days, I’ll be sharing my observations from the game in a three part review: Part 1 – The Game, Part 2 – Draft Impact, Part 3 – Atmospheric Observations.
Part 1 – The Game
From the beginning, Alabama showed their impressive mass up front. The Tide dominated the line of scrimmage the entire game which made it look like they were awesome in every aspect of the game. However, they were not exceptional in any area but the trenches, but as they say, “the game is decided in the trenches.” Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack showed why they will likely be first round choices as interior linemen and DJ Fluker should be an early offensive tackle draft choice. Those three led a group of men that gave AJ McCarron enough time to look like a #1 draft choice (trust me, he’s not near that type of caliber, maybe 3rd round in two years), and got to the second level on runs to give Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon room to run (as apparent by their ridiculous YPC average of 6.0).
On defense for Alabama, the hogs up front controlled the line as well. Nose tackle Jesse Williams showed why he is so highly thought of as an NFL DT and the two defensive ends displayed strength (although not high draft prospects). Because of these big maulers, the defense was able to play comfortably throughout the game.
Aside from the offensive and defensive lines, there were two players that stuck out as future NFL successes. RB Eddie Lacy was very impressive at gaining yards after contact. Very few times did Notre Dame get to him behind the line, but when they did, he brushed them off and gained positive yards. I believe he has a very bright future in the NFL; he will be interesting to watch as he is projected to be drafted in the late 2nd or 3rd round but I could see him succeeding. Also standing out for ‘Bama was cornerback Dee Milliner. Despite the Irish continuing to throw at him, all he did was make plays. The kid is a stud and he solidified his mark as the top CB in this year’s draft.
Notre Dame had some disappointing performances. Middle linebacker Manti T’eo had 10 tackles, sure, but none of them were for a loss and very few came in key situations. He missed a couple of one-on-one tackles on Lacy that a top 5 draft prospect has to make. However, he was all over the field and most of his problems could easily be attributed to the fact that the Alabama linemen dominated so much that they could get to the second level defenders with little resistance. Another Irish defender that should’ve had a good game was safety Zeke Motta. Motta projects as a late 3rd/4th rounder right now, and had a chance to improve that status with a solid game. Instead, he was nowhere to be found against the Tide. I believe his stock tumbled and he will be late 5th or 6th pick unless he puts up ridiculous combine numbers (he is highly thought of as a leader on the team and that will help his cause).
The only other draft-noteworthy player for the Irish was Tyler Eifert, and he proved he is the best tight end in the draft. He made one tremendous catch after another. Unfortunately, he didn’t get as many looks as he should have, finishing the game with 6 catches for 61 yards and one catch that was ruled out of bounds when replay showed it probably should have been considered a catch.
All-in-all, the Alabama Crimson Tide proved to be a dominate SEC foe, and Notre Dame Fighting Irish just seemed glad to be there. It was unfortunate that it was not a better game, but it was the National Championship game, and that’s as big as it gets.
- Rex Cotten