Friday, January 11, 2013

NCAAF Title Game Recap

That wasn't much of a game. Despite my sneaky suspicion that Alabama would win handily, I at least expected Notre Dame to keep it respectable through a quarter or two, before trading FGs for TDs led to too deep a whole to climb out of against a good Alabama defense. And while I was right on about several points (namely Eddie Lacy, the Tide offensive line), I didn't expect the dominant performance they achieved on the nation's biggest stage.

Sports analysts were rightly pointing to the first drive as a sign that the game would not go well for ND. Manti Te'o missed tackles aside, I found UND's inability to stop Alabama's base running offense almost laughable. Constantly on inside zone plays (see this post for great insight into the Tide offense), huge creases appeared when the Irish linebackers wouldn't get to the hole in time. Perhaps more frustrating for Brian Kelly's team, Alabam's weakside tackle/tight end would seal that side so effectively that if the  runners chose to cut back, the would often do so to find huge swaths of green grass. Finally, Alabama blockers worked extremely well in tandem, showing their chemistry from having played so many snaps together over the years. Not only would the guards and centers get to the next level repeatedly against ND's stout (and heavy) defensive front. On multiple occasions, I saw blockers get to the next level and move linebackers outside the tackle box giving running backs easy decisions to make.

And then there were the missed tackles. Throughout the season, I noticed ND had a curious lack of detail in big situations, which they were able to overcome with a lot of luck. But seeing Manti Te'o missing tackles made me wonder: missed tackles are largely the effect of bad coaching. But perhaps these Alabama Crimson Tide were so athletically superior to their lesser brethren from Indiana, that coaching may not have made a difference. One big play I remember distinctly was UND sending freshman corner KeiVarae Russell on a corner blitz, getting a bead on Eddie Lacy, and then getting thrown to the ground by the Alabama back. Brian Kelly is no doubt a good coach, and perhaps there truly was nothing he could do to simulate the Tide's speed and aggression (especially with limited hitting in practice these days).

Finally, this was a coronation of sorts for Nick Saban. For football purists who like to see a team win on the back of its blocking and tackling, there's no better sight to see than that of Roll Tide Roll.

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