Crimson Tide leaders set the rest of the team straight before BCS game with Irish.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — If Alabama truly has a “do and don’t’’ checklist, atop the “don’t” side of the page would be “Don’t let Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson out of the pocket.” Forget comparisons the Crimson Tide say.
Then again, ’Bama can’t forget the last time they played a mobile QB. His name was Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, the architect of Alabama’s only loss of the 2012 season.
“I think the last player we played similar was Manziel and everybody knows what happened in that game,” said linebacker Nico Johnson. “We just have to try to keep him in the pocket more, try to make him less comfortable, and get at them the best we can.”
“I don’t think it puts pressure on us. He’s a good player. But I think by playing the players we played throughout the year has prepared us for a player like him. We just know that we have to do our job as far as the front seven even more against a player like him. “
Whether it’s with tight coverage from a suspect secondary or a line which has, at times this season, struggled to get a consistent pass rush, the Crimson Tide know they can’t let Golson make plays with his feet — running or passing.
Golson’s ability to extend plays has certainly been a focal point of the ’Bama preparation.
“That’s a great weapon for any team. He can call a play that’s probably busted, and then the quarterback can scramble around for five seconds and create things and create havoc for our defense,” end Damion Square said. “So as a defensive lineman you’ve got to rush in the right lanes and have communications with what kind of coverage on the back end and know how to rush and how to keep the quarterback contained, so that receivers won’t be running for an extended time on our DBs.”
REFOCUSIng the troops
Johnson and other ’Bama team leaders didn’t like what they witnessed in Thursday’s workout. They’d seen enough casual demeanor so they called an impromptu team meeting to straighten out the squad.
“We felt like practice, it hasn’t been where it needs to be as far as intensity as far as focus as far as everything,” Johnson said. “Each player took it upon themselves to elevate their game a little more. And that’s what we did. We’re going to try to finish the week out like we did (Thursday). “
Senior Robert Lester, who’s started all 13 games in the secondary, said it important to get the nonchalant atmosphere swept out right away.
“It was last day in full pads, actually physically. It was important to have that up-tempo, intensity ... to have a good practice and get those kinds of things taken care of that we won’t see (Friday) and (Saturday),” Lester said. “I honestly think it was because guys were so ready to be here and actually get started. In Tuscaloosa, it was technique and fundamental things. I don’t think the guys actually realized we’re getting ready for a game.”
Eye on Eifert
Alabama has seen its share of athletic tight ends in SEC country. Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert is different, says Tide players. A 6-foot-6-inch, 251-pounder who can line up tight in formation or split wide to the sidelines is unique.
“I don’t think we have (seen anyone like him) ... he has size and speed at the same time. So we’re going to have to be on our P’s and Q’s, technique, when we’re guarding him, making sure we’re not too high or too low on him, “ Johnson said. “We’re just going to have to play physical football throughout for 60 minutes.”
“Just paying attention to detail and watching a lot of film ... they move him around a lot and if you don’t watch a lot of film and pay attention to detail that’s where he’s at his best.”
Lester, at 6-foot-2, 210, has a ’Bama team-high four interceptions. He’d relish to have Eifert line up wide in Monday’s BCS Championship game.
“I’m a guy who loves challenges, that loves competition,” he said. “What impressed me was that (Eifert) can play the receiver position better than a lot of receivers.”