Yesterday, here at Your Best 11, we hit on Alabama's passing game going into the BCS Championship Game. Since we have already talked about Notre Dame's zone run scheme, it is now time to hit on what the Irish will be looking to do through the air.
First-year starter Everett Golson brings a dynamic presence to the quarterback position, and that is the first thing that must be addressed when discussing the Irish passing attack.
Golson is a pass-first quarterback who brings good arm strength, accuracy and delivery to the position. He also brings a little wiggle that allows him to extend plays with his legs and be a run threat. For the Alabama Crimson Tide, that's key in how they play defense:
To go along with the increased zone looks, you will also see less speed-rushing to get after the quarterback and more controlled rushing to squeeze the pocket and contain Golson. With zone in the back end and a controlled attack on the front end, look for Brian Kelly to attempt to create openings by moving the pocket.
Moving the pocket works because it gives you those seams in the defense for Golson to hit his targets.
Another way to create space in a defense is through the play action. Notre Dame's bread and butter is the zone run. They run zone read-option and stretch zone, and both of those plays make running play action easy.
Here is where Golson, the mobile threat, comes into play in a big way. Play action is great and really sells. However, run action is an even more deadly weapon where the mobile quarterback is concerned. If Golson can hit Alabama for a few critical runs—they don't have to be long or spectacular, just timely—then the run-action game can come into play.
Watch for Kelly to implement some of the run action early, after a few scrambles or designed quarterback keepers from Golson. It is a great way to create space for receivers down the field as linebackers and safeties try to play the run.
The last facet of this ballgame to watch is going to most likely happen in the red zone, but it could be a factor anywhere on the field. That is Tyler Eifert against Dee Milliner or any of the Crimson Tide defensive backs. Eifert is a 6'6" tight end that's very comfortable being flexed out in space.
Alabama can play its best possible coverage and the 6'6" Eifert could still go up over Milliner and make a big play. Notre Dame has to remember it has Eifert as a weapon, and watching how the Irish use him will be an interesting chess match as Nick Saban battles the height issue.
This game has all the makings of a heavyweight title fight. Two teams that want to slug you in the mouth on the ground and win the battle in the trenches with their defensive fronts. The team that finds a big play or two through the air might have the edge in getting the crystal football.