Notre Dame searching for a hole in Alabama's defense

2013-01-05T22:00:00Z Notre Dame searching for a hole in Alabama's defenseBOB WIENEKE South Bend Tribune nwitimes.com
January 05, 2013 10:00 pm  • 

You’ve no doubt heard of fast-paced offenses being dubbed “basketball on grass.” When late Monday night/early Tuesday morning rolls around, after Notre Dame and Alabama play in the BCS Championship Game, we may be talking about “baseball in shoulder pads.”

“If we win this game 3-2, we’re good,” Irish offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said.

The way these two teams play defense, a winning score in single digits, while not likely, isn’t out of the question. Notre Dame is the nation’s stingiest defense, allowing an average of 10.3 points per game. Alabama is right behind with an average of 10.6.

Film study has at times been horrifying for Martin, who spent the past two seasons coaching on defense before switching to offense for the 2012 season. In fact, his math shows that Alabama allowed just four tailback runs of more than 15 yards.

“I’m like, ‘Did we do all 12 games?’” Martin joked. “Because there was only four on there and one was in the fourth quarter against a team where it was like 86-0, so I didn’t even count that one because there were no numbers on the field for Alabama that I recognized.”

What Martin and the staff are looking for in scouring that film is any advantage they can find. Might be a certain play. Could be a formation. May be a particular down and distance in which the Crimson Tide were susceptible.

“We’re looking at all those things to try to give our kids every chance to be in the best position for success,” Martin said.

A lot of Notre Dame’s success running this season has come to the left, behind steady left tackle Zack Martin. Chuck Martin pointed out that Zack has been so good this season that he should be rewarded with two scholarships.

“We certainly use the left side of our offensive line at times at a ridiculous rate,” Chuck Martin said. “I’m not giving away any secrets. Alabama can listen to the press conference. They’re not very good at what they do if they don’t know some of our tendencies running the football. We typically like to go left. It’s not by accident.”

If running left doesn’t work, the Irish will try something different. Martin said that with the long layoff between the Nov. 24 regular-season finale and Monday’s championship, the Irish would have lots of plans at the ready.

“We’ll have a lot of addendums to the addendum,” he said.

It doesn’t have to be a beauty contest. Martin knows that winning ugly earns the same championship ring that winning pretty does.

“And that’s the way we’ve been all year,” Martin said. “We’re just trying to win football games.”

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