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Alabama ready for big-play Irish defense

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Alabama ready for big-play Irish defense

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) When Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier sizes up the Crimson Tide's challenge in the BCS championship, it comes down to cracking a Notre Dame team that leads the nation in scoring defense.

``They've given up 10.3 points a game, they do a great job of keeping you out of the end zone,'' Nussmeier said Thursday. ``The goal of the game is to score points.''

Sounds simple, right? But the Tide and Fighting Irish are alike in that they seldom make reaching the end zone easy for opposing offenses.

Second-ranked Alabama faces No. 1 Notre Dame on Monday in the national title game. As the buildup continued Thursday, the leaders of Alabama's offense talked to reporters about the huge task of facing Notre Dame and All-America linebacker Manti Te'o.

``They do a really good job of making big plays on the defensive side,'' quarterback AJ McCarron said. ``They do a really good job in the red area. I mean, they're first in the nation in almost every category on defense, so they're really good.''

Alabama's defenders might take umbrage at part of that. The Tide actually is tops nationally in total and run defense.

There's no disputing the ``really good'' part, though.

Nussmeier's offense has been solid, too, in his first season. `Bama has already set a school record for points in a season with 500, 23 points better than the 1973 team.

Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon are both 1,000-yard rushers and freshman Amari Cooper has been a front-line receiver who has nine touchdown catches.

Now comes a meeting with a defense that is allowing opponents to score touchdowns on a scant 24 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, or the red zone, and has yielded just two rushing touchdowns this season.

``They've created a lot of lost-yardage plays in the red zone, and when you get behind the sticks and you get out of rhythm down there it's very difficult because obviously the field shrinks,'' Nussmeier said.

Lacy knows how formidable Notre Dame's run defense has been. Then again, Bama has run for 35 touchdowns.

``It's a challenge,'' Lacy said. ``We embrace it, and we're going to try to score more than two touchdowns.''

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John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

John Wall takes another step in rehab, facing teammates in practice

WASHINGTON -- The steady progress continues for John Wall in his rehab from a ruptured left Achilles tendon, as the Wizards point guard is now facing teammates in 4-on-4 drills at practice.

Head coach Scott Brooks described the games as "controlled," noting they were not full-speed or with contact and featured a 10-second shot clock. But that remains a notable step in his road back after he had previously been playing mostly against player development coaches.

"He practiced for the whole practice. He looked great," Brooks said. "There is still a ways to go. But his energy, his enthusiasm, his strength [looks good]. His shot looks better."

Wall, 29, hasn't played in a game since Dec. 26 of 2018. He had surgery on his Achilles on Feb. 12, 2019. He is currently over 11 months into what is typically an 11-to-15 month recovery.

Brooks, though, makes a point to couch positive updates about Wall with patience. The team has indicated he may not play at all this season.

"I don't know if he plays this year," Brooks said. "We can be patient and we're going to be patient because we need him to be right for a lot of years. This is his career and we know how serious that injury is. He's taking it serious."

Part of the equation is the financial commitment the Wizards have made in Wall. He is due roughly $131.5 million over the next three seasons. They want to make sure he is good to go not just for this year, but that he can be effective for the remainder of his contract.

According to Brooks, even having Wall back to this level has added some positive energy to the Wizards' organization.

"I know the excitement is around because he's around and he's looking [good]," Brooks said. "When he comes back, he's going to be the John Wall we all love."

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Houston QB D'Eriq King reportedly transfers to Miami over Maryland

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Houston QB D'Eriq King reportedly transfers to Miami over Maryland

Just one week after announcing that he had entered the NCAA transfer portal, University of Houston QB D'Eriq King has reportedly chosen Miami over Maryland.

The Athletic's Hurricanes beat writer Manny Navarro reports that King has informed Canes coaches of his decision and intent to start classes Tuesday, Jan. 21. 

At the same time, Mark Berman of Fox26 reported that King has not made a final decision but did indeed like Miami.

 

King was scheduled to visit Miami Friday night and Maryland on Saturday, but Jeff Ermann of InsideMDSports reports that King may have cancelled his visit to second-year head coach Mike Locksley and company last minute after liking Miami. Berman reports that King is still "planning" on visiting College Park.

The Terps struggled to finish 3-9 with Josh Jackson and Tyrell Pigrome under center, combining for 16 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions. Under first-year head coach Manny Diaz, Miami went 6-7 over 2019.

King redshirted this season after playing the maximum four games allowed under new NCAA rules in order to preserve eligibility and transfer for  his senior season. In those four games, King tallied 663 passing yards and six touchdowns. 

The sought-after QB is also just one of three in FBS history that have recorded at least 35 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns in a single season.

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