Notebook: Alabama's focus is on Alabama

In its first week back at practice, Alabama is focusing solely on itself and getting back to the basics. There will be plenty of time for Notre Dame film study, which will come after the Christmas holiday.

Whenever Alabama prepares for a game, the focus is always turned inward rather than on the opponent. The upcoming national championship game against Notre Dame is no different.

After a two-and-a-half week break following the SEC title game, the Crimson Tide returned to the practice fields this week. But there hasn't been much Fighting Irish film involved. The guys have really just seen cut-ups and snippets here and there. This week before Christmas, Alabama's focus is solely on Alabama.

"We're not focusing on them right now," said running back Eddie Lacy. "It's all about us, focusing on our fundamentals and all the things we have to do in order to prepare for them."

Of course the Tide knows what they will be up against on Jan. 7. This week Lacy cited Manti Te'o and Notre Dame's front seven, which head coach Nick Saban has said is the best in the country. Cornerback Dee Milliner discussed the Irish's mobile quarterback Everett Golson and the physical tight end Tyler Eifert, whom he met at the ESPN Awards in Orlando a few weeks ago (the two became friends, but did talk a little trash, Milliner joked).

But the team hasn't locked itself in the film room just yet.

"I've got a whole month, there's no rush to watch," said defensive end Damion Square. "It ain't like I only got a week. I'm still watching the keys of the guys up front and seeing if they give away different things. The center is a big, physical guy. All those guys have great size on them, great height. They protect the young guy back there pretty well. It's definitely a game we're going to have to strap it up and come to play. It's power football."

Staying or going?

With the news of A.J. McCarron and C.J. Mosley returning for their senior seasons coming within about a week of one another, Alabama fans eagerly await the announcement from some other juniors.

Milliner, Lacy and right tackle D.J. Fluker have yet to disclose their decision to stay in Tuscaloosa or head to the NFL.

"I haven't taken time out to think about it yet, but after the [national championship] game, I'm going to sit down with my family and Coach Saban and make the best choice for my future," said Milliner, who is widely projected as a first-round draft selection. Some boards have him as a Top 10 pick.

"I have not made a decision on that yet," said Lacy. "That's not something I'm thinking about at this time. We have another game left. I have to talk to my parents about it. I have to talk to Coach Saban about it. That's an external factor that we cannot allow us to affect us right now. So after the bowl game, after we sit down, we'll make a decision."

'73 Sugar Bowl

The most memorable matchup between Alabama and Notre Dame was its first on New Year's Eve in 1973 in the Sugar Bowl. The Crimson Tide were coached by Paul "Bear" Bryant and the Fighting Irish were led by Ara Parseghian. Both teams were undefeated. When all was said and done, Notre Dame won 24-23.

This week, Saban, who was a 22-year-old graduate assistant at Kent State when that game took place, was asked what he remembered about it.

"That was how many years ago?" he asked, smiling (it was 39). "I've been married for 41. I had an anniversary, just two days ago, Dec. 18, and I remember that. That was a real important thing to remember.

"I know it was a big game. I know the historical significance of that game. But for me to say 39 years ago, I remember this game, I don't. It would be like saying do you remember the USC-UCLA game when Gary Beaman was the quarterback in 1968? No, I don't. There was no significance (to me) to the game. I was in West Virginia. I was hitchhiking to practice. That was the only way we could get around. I had other things that were more important at the time."


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