Does Notre Dame's Defense Have an Answer for Oklahoma's Belldozer?
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The Blue Wall is a decades-old term used to describe a police department's unwritten policy of not snitching on a fellow officer's transgressions. That term needs to be updated.
The Blue Wall is now Notre Dame's front seven.
Notre Dame has a stingy rushing defense, but what really makes its defense stand out is this mind-numbing stat: After seven games, the Fighting Irish haven't allowed a rushing touchdown.
Stanford fans will probably disagree, arguing that the Cardinal did score a rushing touchdown on Notre Dame—not once, but twice in the waning seconds of that October 13 nail-biter.
Meh, the history books tell a different story and that's all that counts.
But let's take a look at what the Fighting Irish's No. 15-ranked defense has faced in terms of competition.
Team Average rushing yards per game National ranking
Navy 236.71 No. 13
Purdue 158.14 No. 70
Michigan State 140.00 No. 86
Michigan 222.57 No. 18
Miami (FL) 126.75 No. 95
Stanford 167.57 No. 58
BYU 160.13 No. 66
At first glance, both Navy and Michigan appear to be superior rushing teams. The Irish defense only allowed Navy to rush for 149 yards and Michigan 161 yards. So far, that rushing defense looks legit.
More Irish rushing defense fodder: Purdue was allowed only 90 yards, Michigan State 50 yards, Miami 84 yards and BYU 66 yards. In short, the Irish never allowed their opponents to meet or exceed their average rushing yards per game.
Notre Dame's defense looks like the real deal both on paper and via the eyeball test. But how would that defense do against Oklahoma's Blake "Belldozer" Bell?
Bell is a bruising 6'6", 254-pound quarterback who hasn't thrown for any touchdowns this year, but has punched in eight rushing touchdowns. He's a machine in the red zone. Belldozer, Red Bell, however you want to make a play on his name, he's the Big 12's answer to Tim Tebow.
Against Texas, Bell rushed 11 times for 31 yards, which equals 2.8 yards per carry. That's a legitimate stat because, in that game, Bell's longest run was for eight yards. He also scored four touchdowns on those 11 carries.
The Belldozer only carried the ball twice in the Sooners' game against Kansas State, but one of those carries was a touchdown. Stout or stingy defenses can't stop him.
The second Bell enters the game near the goal line, the defense cues on him running the ball. But Bell is a quarterback—not a fullback despite his massive presence—so the defense has to be mindful of a play-action pass. Or a blast play up the middle.
Either way, the fact that he can both run and pass will cause problems for the Irish defense.
Yes, Notre Dame shut down Michigan's Denard Robinson, but so did Alabama. Yes, Notre Dame only allowed Michigan to rush for 161 yards on the Irish's home field, but Alabama only allowed 69. In Arlington, Texas.
Does Notre Dame have an answer for Belldozer?
Yes, and their names are Manti Te'o and Stephon Tuitt, among others. But in the end, it may not matter. Te'o and Truitt still have to make sure those bubble screens or crossing patterns at the goal line get covered, even if Bell tips the run.
The Irish secondary is thin and inexperienced—Lo Woods (Achilles) was the most experienced corner back on the team—so Belldozer may go through the air.
Like a Bell helicopter.
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