FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Notre Dame has had trouble scoring when it reaches the red zone this season, and improving in that area has been a point of emphasis as it prepares for Monday’s BCS National Championship Game.
Irish offensive coordinator Chuck Martin is a realist when it comes to having success against Alabama in the red zone. He said he’s aware how well the Crimson Tide is when opposing teams drive inside the 20.
He said the problem with coming up with a plan against Alabama is difficult simply because rarely has it allowed opposing teams to get into the red zone.
“Unfortunately, you are trying to study the opposition’s tape and there’s just not a lot of clips of teams getting down there,” he said. “The few clips when teams get inside their 10 so you can really game plan and organize a good plan the score is typically 48-0 and none of the starters are on the field for Alabama. It’s hard to game plan against what they do late in the game when they are up 50 points.”
Martin said coming up with a plan of attack against what Alabama will do against certain formations is guesswork because of the number of back-up players in those blowout games.
“They’re just kind of finishing out the game,” Martin said.
Notre Dame has scored points on 46 of 58 trips into the red zone, but only 27 resulted in touchdowns. Alabama has allowed only 27 trips to the red zone, 17 of which resulted in points.
Quite a talent
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson isn’t just a whiz at quarterback. He’s also an excellent musician and basketball player.
In fact, while being recruited out of Myrtle Beach, S.C., he hoped to perhaps get a shot to be a two-sport player.
“Obviously, basketball is my love,” Golson said. “But my primary sport now is football. I’d like to say I would like to have the chance of playing basketball someday here. But like I said, football is my primary, and what I’m focused on right now is the national championship.”
Golson said the topic of playing both sports at Notre Dame has been bought up but nothing substantial has taken place with Irish hoops coach Mike Brey.
North Carolina also was in pursuit of Golson’s talents but he refused to speculate on whether he could have played both there.
Off the field, Golson plays the piano and the drums. He has a keyboard in his room.
“Music is like my outlet,” Golson said. “There’s many times when I come from practice or from class, and I’ll just sit down and play. It’s more my outlet, kind of lets me get me away from what’s actually going on, what I’m actually doing.”
Receiver TJ Jones said it’s not uncommon for him to be in Golson’s room and the quarterback will be tinkering on the piano, “messing around with notes.”
One thing Golson doesn’t excel at is video games, Jones said.
Spreading the wealth
Notre Dame has the luxury of having three outstanding running backs, but that can create problems in trying to give each one of them enough work to keep them all happy.
Theo Reddick leads the team with 880 yards on 180 attempts. Cierre Wood has 740 yards on 110 carries while George Atkinson III has 361 yards on 51 carries. Atkinson and Reddick have five TDs each. Wood has four.
It’s a nice dilemma, according to Martin.
“The truth be told, they could all be a feature back,” Martin said. “They all could do all the things. Everybody is like, ‘he plays more, what’s wrong with him?’ There’s nothing wrong with any of the three. We’d like to get George 20 touches a game, but there’s one football.”
Martin said he and ND coach Brian Kelly talked about getting Atkinson more carries.
“I was like ‘I’m with you, we have to run more plays,’ ” Martin said. “It’s a credit to all three of them that they have stuck with it and prepared hard every week. Some weeks they have gotten more touches, but that’s the nature of the beast.”