Alabama defense ready for whatever Irish throw at them

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Alabama defense ready for whatever Irish throw at them

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Notre Dame has watched the tape, and feel they have an advantage against Alabama's secondary.
Most of that tape, though, is of Johnny Manziel's wizardry in Texas A&M's upset win over the Tide in November. For all the strides he's made in the last two months, Everett Golson is not Johnny Manziel. Still, both are young, elusive quarterbacks who can run, so the comparisons have been drawn.
"Hes a great quarterback," Alabama cornerback Dee Milliner said of Golson. "He makes plays last longer by using his legs. Any time youve got a dual-threat quarterback that can run and pass the ball like he does, they can be a challenge at any time because he can make plays last longer with his legs."
Linebacker C.J. Mosley noted how Manziel's scrambles and dashes out of the pocket got Alabama's defense out of its zones, gaps and contains against Texas A&M. It's plays like those that led Irish running back Theo Riddick to say Friday he thinks the Irish have an advantage over Alabama's secondary.
Accurate claim or not, Alabama's certainly aware of its mistakes against Manziel and using those to prepare for Golson. Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart pointed out a play against Boston College where Golson scrambled right and threw to a wide open John Goodman in the end zone as a challenge for his defense.
"They lost him. To (the secondary's) credit that creates a different angle of the offense that's hard to prepare for. It's hard to simulate that, simulate a play that extends that long. You can't do it, you really can't."
So the goal for Alabama will be to pressure Golson and to restrain him from dancing outside the pocket. Golson can probably expect an array of blitzes he hasn't seen on tape as part of Alabama's effort to make him uncomfortable.
Perhaps a tougher aspect for Alabama to achieve will be to mute Tyler Eifert's production. The senior tight end has come on strong as of late, finally forging a relationship with Golson to the point where he's the go-to safety net. Eifert figured Alabama hasn't seem a player like him this year, a claim which Mosley backed up with the agreement of his defensive coordinator.
"They do a great job with what they do of getting No. 80 the ball," Smart said. "It forces you to do things that you're not used to doing."
Milliner, by the way, compared Eifert to ex-South Carolina and current Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery. That's probably more accurate than comparing Golson to Manziel, although if Notre Dame gets the same result Texas A&M had, that argument won't matter.

Sunday on CSN: UIC travels to Valparaiso

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Sunday on CSN: UIC travels to Valparaiso

Horizon League basketball returns to CSN on Sunday as UIC travels to Valparaiso. This game tips at 2:00 p.m. live on CSN.

The Flames (11-8, 4-2) have won three straight games and have played pretty good ball after the loss of Dikembe Dixson to a torn ACL. Junior big man Tai Odiase, a Homewood-Flossmoor graduate, is playing well along with former St. Rita product Dominique Matthews.

Valparaiso (15-4, 5-1) is hoping to maintain its conference lead behind senior All-American candidate Alec Peters. The 6-foot-9 senior is averaging 23.9 points and 10.9 rebounds per game on the season.

The Crusaders won the first time these two teams played at UIC on Dec. 30 as Tevonn Walker had 23 points.

Saturday on CSN: Loyola, Illinois State host Missouri Valley opponents

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Saturday on CSN: Loyola, Illinois State host Missouri Valley opponents

CSN will have two Missouri Valley Conference games with local teams on Saturday. 

The first game tips at 3 p.m. live on CSN as Evansville heads to Loyola. The second game tips at 7 p.m. and is also live on CSN as Drake will play at Illinois State.

Loyola (13-7, 3-4) is coming off of a tough road loss in double overtime to Northern Iowa. The Ramblers have been led by senior Milton Doyle this season as the former Marshall star is one of the better guards in the Valley.

Evansville (10-10, 1-6) has dropped five straight games as they're struggling to gain any momentum in conference play. Senior guard Jaylon Brown is having an outstanding season for the Purple Aces as he's putting up 21.2 points per game.

The second matchup has Drake (6-13, 4-3) traveling to Illinois State. The Bulldogs have won three of four games and junior guard Reed Timmer is dangerous while former Saint Viator product Ore Arogundade is having a solid sophomore season. 

Illinois State (15-4, 7-0) is leading the Valley after a huge win over Wichita State as they've won eight straight games. The Redbirds are hoping to make a run to an NCAA tournament bid with another home win.