Lacy, Yeldon have compelling matchup with Notre Dame

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The Alabama and Notre Dame game will be a star-studded war in Miami between two teams that are very similar, and we already know that the premier matchup within the game will be Alabama’s running attack against Notre Dame’s stingy front seven.

The Tide are second in the SEC and 20th in the country in rushing, with over 224 yards per game. And fresh off their 350-yard outburst against Georgia’s talented defense, the Tide running game will next look to enforce their will on the Irish’s gifted run defense. However, the biggest advantage Alabama will have won’t be Eddie Lacy or TJ Yeldon, but it will be that mauling offensive line – the single most dominant force in college football for 2012.

Eddie Lacy, the artist formally known as the Circle Button, ran through the Georgia players’ arm tackles similar to Kim Kardashian (all credit to Desmond Howard for this one), totaling 20 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Everyone decided Lacy wasn’t even the best running back on his team earlier in the season with the early flashes from TJ Yeldon, but all that talk has quieted, because he’s the sure-handed power runner who has the experience that both Nick Saban and Doug Nussmeier can trust.

41-yard TD run

32-yard run

While Eddie Lacy is the best running back now on Alabama, TJ Yeldon’s ceiling at the position is amazingly high. Not to be outdone by Lacy, Yeldon actually got five more meaningful carries against Georgia. Yeldon rushed 25 times for 153 yards and one touchdown. He’s a changeup back to Lacy, not because he’s small or less powerful, but he has more speed and natural instincts at the position. Usually freshmen hit a wall somewhere around the 75 percent mark of their freshman season, because their bodies have never endured a season as physical as what it is going through now, but credit to Yeldon for staying fresh and the staff for keeping him fresh throughout 2012.

10-yard TD run

Notre Dame’s front seven and run defense is legit. Have they faced an offensive line like the Tide yet? Of course not; nobody does until they face Alabama. But you can bet that the Irish first and second level of defense will take it personally to bear the rest of the country’s cross to stop the run against Alabama.

Notre Dame defensive stats that jump out:

  • #1 in scoring defense at 10.3 points per game
  • #4 in rushing defense at 92.42 yards per game
  • #21 in passing defense at 194.4 yards per game
  • #6 in total defense at 286.8 yards per game

Georgia, for all its NFL talent, is #81 in the country against the run. Alabama was able to exploit their front seven and pound the football into the teeth of the defense with much success.

Notre Dame features three defensive linemen north of 300 pounds, and four linebackers who are 240 pounds or more. This isn’t Oregon or Ohio State. It’s a little bit of a different animal from what the SEC has seen in the last several years in the national championship game.

Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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COMMENTS

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  • Agreed …ND has the size up front…but do they have the speed? I think they can certainly stop the run up front better than UGA … But they’ll still hafta use a safety and that will give Cooper another big play or two

  • The other point I see is yeah they may have a good defense but they have not played a offense like alabama yet either.

    • ND’s Offense is ranked 75th in scoring, and is less than 70% in the red-zone (with less than 50% converted for TD’s). This, I think, will be the real difference in this game. Bama will gash them with several big plays for TD’s, and will run at will. But, our number 1 ranked overall Defense, will be so stingy, that I don’t see them reaching our end-zone with the ball.