Nick Saban and his No. 1 Alabama team have all but dominated each of its opponents this year. But, the Crimson Tide defense will surely have their hands full on Friday when they take on Ian Book and the No. 4 Fighting Irish.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Saban acknowledged the unique challenge that Book poses to his Alabama defense. The Notre Dame senior quarterback has an uncanny ability to extend plays with his legs.
“I think it's certainly going to be a challenge for our defense,” Saban said. “I think their entire offensive team will be a great challenge for us because of the great balance they have on offense, their ability to run the ball, also make explosive plays in the passing game, and the quarterback's ability to make all the throws as well as extend plays with his feet, scramble and run. He's certainly a dual-threat guy that presents a lot of problems for us, and we're going to have to be very disciplined in terms of the way we play and everyone doing their job if we're going to have a chance to be successful against Ian Book and Notre Dame's offense.”
Ian Book has exhibited some incredible play in both the passing and rushing games all season.
The talented dual-threat QB has thrown for 2,601 yards and 15 touchdowns -- also adding 430 yard and eight touchdowns on the ground. His ability to get out of the pocket and extend improbable plays mirrors the skills of NFL quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.
In Notre Dame's 34-10 blowout loss to Clemson in the ACC championship, the Tigers did an excellent job of keeping Book in the pocket. Alabama defensive coordinator Pete Golding acknowledged this as the best way to limit the Fighting Irish offense.
"Obviously Ian Book, the quarterback, I think kind of makes them tick,” Golding said. “Really good football player. Competitive, he's tough. I think he does a great job extending plays, but keeps his eyes downfield. When you break down their explosive reel, a lot of their explosive plays come because he extends the play, moves out of the pocket. And obviously do a really nice job in the scramble.”
Nick Saban and No. 1 Alabama will face No. 4 Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl at 4:00 p.m. E.T.