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Keeping an eye on Eifert, Riddick

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Alabama coach Nick Saban has his team honing in on two Notre Dame players as the No. 2 Crimson Tide (12-1) get ready to play the No. 1 Irish (12-0) in Monday night's BCS championship game.

During Sunday's coaches news conference, Saban said the Tide's defense has to be aware of how coach Brian Kelly will use the versatile talents of tight end and former Bishop Dwenger star Tyler Eifert and running back Theo Riddick, who played receiver the previous two seasons.

"I think that Notre Dame does a really good job of taking two players that they have, their tight end, No. 80, and their running back, No. 6, and utilizing the formations to create lots of issues for the defense because with two wide receivers and those two guys in the game, one is a running back and one is a second tight end, or first tight end, however you want to say it, they can create a lot of situations where those guys are put out in space where big people, linebacker types, may have a little more difficult time playing them," Saban said. "think they do an exceptional job in doing that … and the quarterback (Everett Golson), who has made tremendous progress throughout the year and is a very effective player, a much better passer than is publicly perceived and given credit for, and certainly a very athletic guy who can extend plays and make plays with his feet.

"I think that's one of the things, because their ability to run the ball and their ability to do that, that create lots of issues and problems, a little bit like the New England Patriots do with the tight ends that they have. So that's a real challenge for our defense."

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.