The headlines talking about the BCS National Championship Game constantly surround Manti Te’o and the Alabama defense. What is getting lost in the mix is the effect that Louis Nix will have on the game.
Alabama squared off against another 3-4 defense in the SEC title game, and was able to come away with a ton of yards on the ground. A large chunk came through the middle in the late quarters.
The Crimson Tide were able to seal off lanes on Jon Jenkins, isolating the Bulldogs' nose guard. While the Tide will face a similar situation against Notre Dame, it will be a much more difficult task to seal off Louis Nix.
Nix is a 6’3”, 326-pound inside man for Notre Dame that thrives on drawing double teams. Nix is also a player that can duck double teams and stop runs before they hit the second level of the defense.
So far this year, Nix has been in on 45 tackles and three sacks. He also has five pass breakups and three quarterback hurries.
The Tide will also battle Stephon Tuitt and Kepron Lewis-Moore on a regular basis, causing their focus to shift away from Nix. There are a number of playmakers present on the front line for Notre Dame that will cause Alabama fits.
If the Crimson Tide can’t isolate Nix and push the ball on the ground through the middle as the game progresses, they will struggle to score points against the Notre Dame defense.
The Tide have become reliant on the big play to create a lot of points, and the play-action is the key to a lot of Alabama’s points production.
The Alabama play-action is a well-known play as it hits big in almost every game, but without a solid middle ground attack it will not be effective against the Irish defense.
Nix is as explosive as any player that the Crimson Tide have faced in the middle this fall. He also has the best surrounding cast of any middle man on the Tide’s schedule. He has the ability to be the most important piece of this game for the Irish defense.
Barrett Jones will be the opposing lineman to Nix in the game, but Jones doesn’t have the physical ability to handle Nix alone on an every-down basis. That will lead to double teams and free-roaming linebackers for the Notre Dame defense.
Alabama will have to use a unique approach in the blocking schemes it employs against Notre Dame to find the ground success it needs offensively. Without isolating Louis Nix, it will be a long day for the Crimson Tide in Miami.