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December 22, 2012

Tide players prep for Irish

TUSCALOOSA | It will be at least another week before the University of Alabama coaching staff introduces a game plan for the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame to players.

But that doesn't mean the Crimson Tide isn't getting a look at the Irish on its own. Players are able to access film on Notre Dame and engage in some mental preparations of their own, and they've been doing just that in the days before the team's Christmas break.

"I'm still up front. I'm still watching those guys up front. I've got a whole month. There's no rush to watch. It ain't like I've only got a week," said senior defensive end Damion Square. "I'm still watching the keys of the guys up front and seeing if they give away different things."

Players said familiarizing themselves with the 12-0 Irish will make the coaches' game plan all the easier to understand when the time comes to install it. Until then, the UA staff is emphasizing fundamentals and self-improvement to players at practice.

Quarterback AJ McCarron said he's not watched any Notre Dame games in full, but has begun looking at "cut-ups" of film from different games, and of different positions.

"Their secondary, I haven't watched enough on them. Their defensive line, they move around," McCarron said. "They'll show the O-linemen one look and at the last second move to another gap and stuff, so you know, they change it up, which could be tough."

The amount of time the players spend learning Notre Dame's schemes and tendencies will intensify over time, nose guard Jesse Williams said.

"We watch a little bit every day - not too much at the moment," he said.

What's become clear to Square is that Alabama is in for a tougher, more physical game. Watching Notre Dame's offensive front alone has convinced him of that.

"The center is a big, physical guy. All those guys have great size on them, great height. They protect the young guy back there (quarterback Everett Golson) pretty well," Square said. "It's definitely a game we're going to have to strap it up and come to play. It's power football. Those guys are coming at you and not trying to run around you."

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196.

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