Jenkins whipped Jones quite a bit on strength but he and the rest of the GA line is very undisciplined so BJ was able to beat them with superior technique. This write up was very insightful.
Jenkins may have more raw talent but Nix is better coached.
Go look at the pictures in the linked article. Maybe the foot is to blame and maybe it's better. I agree if he can handle Nix it's a sad day for the domers.
Without regard to the SEC Championship game, I believe this point is key. If Nix doesn't command a double team (and we don't constantly have to use a TE to handle both ends) this one will be over before the 4th quarter. Jones does not have to dominate Nix, he just has to keep him out of the running lanes -- push him straight back five yards would be great, but so is making just enough room for TJY or EL to slip by or cut back against. If that happens, eventually ND has to bite the bullet and put 8 in the box because CW and AS will be pounding on their LBs. I believe their LBs are very talented, but no, they will not overcome blocks from our O linemen. If Nix can command a double team or pressure the QB on passing downs one on one, then it will be a long night for Alabama. Also, if BJ reinjures his (whatever it was below the knee) we have serious issues. I will be watching this battle, but the problem is that BJ is so smart, occasionally we succeed on plays where he basically loses the battle, but does so in a way that leaves the play viable.
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The biggest advantage we'll have, in my opinion, is our ability to run both inside and outside with both backs from virtually any formation.
Even if ND does crowd the box a little - assuming they aren't overloading the box and leaving their DBs on islands - for most of the game they'll still have to pick their poison with regard to which running lanes to attack. From most of our formations we can run up the middle, off-tackle, or outside on either power or counter runs with both Lacy and Yeldon. And both of them have both the size and strength to break an arm tackle running inside as well as the speed to beat a defender without a better angle to the edge.
Notre Dame doesn't have the speed across the board in their front seven to not cheat to one side, at least. They aren't slow, by any means, but they are slower than we are for sure. They are well coached and disciplined and that, combined with their relatively large size and strength, makes them a very formidable front seven.
However, I don't believe that they have the speed to play both of their inside linebackers "inside the tackles" in the box - in order to be able to hit the inside gaps quickly on interior runs - and still be able to get outside to seal the edge before either a pulling Guard or H-Back can get to them to give Lacy and/or Yeldon the edge.
If this is the case, then it means that as long as we can keep the Linebackers honest by regularly running up the middle then they'll be relying on their Defensive Backs to recognize it's a running play, get off the blocks of our Receivers, and make the tackle on most every power run or counter to the outside, especially on the short side of the field. And that's even with 7 guys in the box.
Notre Dame's vaunted run defense this year appears - from looking at the statistical differentials - to be much like Texas' vaunted run defense from three years ago: more a product of their competition than their own merit.
I honestly feel that if Jones is at 80% or better, or Kelly is equivalent to Jones at 80% or better, that the only way Notre Dame will be able to consistently stop our running game is with 8+ men in the box. If they do that, AJ will light them up in the passing game.
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To add to this evolving discussion (good job guys) is how the ND LBs and defensive philosophy plays overall.
First for the LBs, I noticed NDs LBs play back 5 yards off the line of scrimmage every down that's not a 2nd/3rd and short. If the Bama OL handles the guys up front with 4 OL v 3 DL it allows the TE and most probably a guard to get to the LBs on running plays. I like Bama's chances to grind out yards as the game wears on.
As for the overall play Diaco has ND playing zone, zone, more zone, and yet more zone on top of a healthy dose of zone. A part of that is LB placement, trying to keep everything in front of them, make tackles (ND tackles very well), and force teams to make long drives on them. It's worked and their magic in the red zone has been effective because of the condensed nature of the field, there just isn't a lot of room.
The flip side of how they've played zone is they've allowed their front 3 or 4 DL to be a lot more aggressive than has the Bama version of the 34 D. This of course shows up in the stats with their starters having good numbers for a 3 man unit, much better than one usually expects from a 3-front.
Final thought because ND wants to play 2 deep zone I look to see a good 6 or 7 quick throw outs to Cooper, Christian, and company when ND DBs are playing off. They bail big time at times essentially giving up 1st downs.
Kelly & Co deserve a lot of credit for molding this team to it's talents and not trying to make it something it's not.
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IMO, the most important consideration is this discussion is that Bama showed against UGA that no matter how talented the opposing front seven is, they can eventually wear them down and enforce their will by the second half. Talent-wise, I think UGA and ND matchup pretty evenly in their front seven. ND has the edge in DL and UGA has the edge in LB. The weakness of ND's front seven, however, is their OLB's... and we ought to make some serious hay with that matchup.