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Stephen’s Report: Focusing on the Performance of the Players (BCS Title Edition)

1. O-Line- What a dominating performance by the Crimson Tide offensive line!!!! Coming into the BCS Title Game Monday, Notre Dame’s defense was first in the nation in red-zone defense giving up points 24.2 percent of the time (5 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing touchdown.) Alabama surpassed that by scoring touchdowns in the redzone on five different possessions. The O-line did a marvelous job of blocking and creating running lanes for Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon, as well as protecting A.J. McCarron who was not sacked at all in the game. With the contributions made by the offensive line, Alabama totaled 529 yards of offense (rushed for 265 yards) and controlled the clock for the majority of the game. To add more insult to injury on the side of the Irish, Alabama’s offensive line had Manti Te’o off balance all game long. A gorgeous performance by the men in the trenches as they rightfully earned a BCS Title and an A+ on the finale of Stephen’s Report.

2. Defense- All week long, the Crimson Tide defense kept hearing about how dominate the Irish defense was, how great their linebacker core is, and how sound their defensive backs were. Talk is cheap, real action takes place on the gridiron and boy did ever take place on it for Alabama. The defense stepped up Monday, rose to the challenge, and met the competition pound for pound. Alabama did a great job of pressure freshman quarterback Everett Golson and playing coverage behind it in order to make it difficult on him to find receivers. Golson was sacked twice in the game and intercepted by Ha’Ha Clinton-Dix. Alabama held the Irish to just 32 yards rushing. Although Notre Dame was able to avoid the shut out by scoring 14 points (7 in the third quarter and 7 in the fourth quarter), the deficit was too much for the Irish to overcome. An outstanding job by the Crimson Tide as they earn an A- on Stephen’s Report.

3. Ground Game- What do you get when you have a second huge stage, two talented hungry running backs, a powerful offensive line, and a defense that has no idea of what to expect? Simple how about a 265 yard rushing performance! Eddie Lacy with his devastating signature spin move was able parlay from his success in the SEC Championship victory against Georgia into a National Championship victory against the Irish. In a game in which Notre Dame’s defense was supposed be focused on stopping the run, that notion became easier said than done. Behind an O-line filled with All-Americans, Eddie Lacy carried the ball 20 times for 140 yards (7.0 yards per carry) and and a touchdown. His counterpart TJ Yeldon carried the ball 21 times for 108 yards (5.1 yards per carry) and a touchdown. The tandem Lacy and Yeldon strikes again, and this time they struck for a National Championship and an A+ on Stephen’s Report.

4. Third Down Conversions- In an area that Alabama struggled with for much of the season, they conquered it on Monday. The Crimson Tide converted 8 of 13 third downs (61.5 percent). Being clutch on third down, allowed Alabama the ability to control the game. The Irish on the other hand were a dismal 2 of 8 (25 percent) on third down.

5. A.J. McCarron- Despite his love interest making the headlines for much the game, McCarron took care his part of the bargain by just picking the Notre Dame secondary a part. The difference between Alabama and Notre Dame was the experience at field general and boy did McCarron show his experience Monday night. He was poised and confident in pocket. His reads were crisp, he was accurate on most of his passes (two passes to Amari Cooper sailed a bit.) He just looked like he belonged in this game more than Golson who did not seem to have a feel for the game until the fourth quarter. McCarron, with a clean pocket all night, was able to go through his progressions at ease and make the right decisions. As far as efficiency goes here’s a statistic for you, McCarron went 20-28 passing (71.4% passes completed) for 264 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. An amazing job by McCarron as ends his junior year with 30 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also becomes the first quarterback to win back-to-back National Titles as the starting quarterback. A great game plan drawn by Off. Coordinator Doug Nussmeier and executed to perfection by McCarron, as he earns an A+ on Stephen’s Report.

On a night in which the Irish defense was praised and highly regarded as on the best, it was the offense and defense of the Crimson Tide that stood as the winner and now holding the BCS National Championship for the third time in a four year span. Congratulations to Head Coach Nick Saban and the Tide on a 42-14 victory over Notre Dame.

Stephen Smith is a 2015 graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a senior writer and reporter for Touchdown Alabama Magazine. He has covered Alabama football for 10+ years and his knowledge and coverage of the Crimson Tide's program have made him among the most respected journalist in his field. Smith has been featured on ESPN and several other marquee outlets as an analyst.

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