TRips: 3 Irish defenders to watch

Lacy will be a focal point for Te'o and the rest of the Irish defense.

Three Notre Dame defenders to watch in Alabama's BCS Championship Game matchup with the Irish.

5 Manti Te'o
Position: Inside linebacker
2012 accolades: Unanimous all-america selection. Bednarik, Lombardi, Maxwell and Butkus Award winner. Walter Camp Player of the Year.
How he'll impact the game: Central figure in a Notre Dame rush defense that ranks fourth nationally. A three-down linebacker, the senior leads the Irish in tackles (103) and interceptions (seven).
Who he'll see the most of: If his nose tackle doesn't demand a double team, Te'o and fellow inside linebackers Carlo Calabrese and Dan Fox will be forced to deal with UA guards Chance Warmack and Anthony Steen. If Warmack or Steen are needed to help against the nose, either Te'o, Calabrese or Fox will have a free run at Crimson Tide running backs Eddie Lacy and TJ Yeldon.
SEC comparable: LSU middle linebacker Kevin Minter. They come from different schemes, but both Te'o and Minter play sideline to sideline, with Te'o probably the better pass defender of the two, while Minter is more of a playmaker against the run.

9 Louis Nix
Position: Nose tackle
2012 accolades: Presented Notre Dame's Moose Krause Defensive Lineman of the Year Award.
How he'll impact the game: The redshirt sophomore, who has made 21 starts the past two seasons, will look to use all of his 326 pounds to hold the point of Notre Dame's 3-4 defense. Te'o gets the headlines, but Nix makes life much easier for the second level of the Irish D.
Who he'll see the most of: Good on good in this one, as Nix will go head up on Alabama center Barrett Jones for much of the night. If Jones, who is recovering from a sprained foot sustained in the SEC Championship Game, needs help against Nix, consider it a win for the Notre Dame defense.
SEC comparable: Georgia's John Jenkins. Nix (6'3, 326) and Jenkins (6'3, 351) are similar as far as bodytype goes, with Nix getting the edge in initial quickness and pad level.

7 Stephon Tuitt
Position: Defensive end
2012 accolades: Second-team all-america selection by the Associated Press. Moose Krause Defensive Lineman of the Year Award as selected by the Notre Dame coaching staff.
How he'll impact the game: At 6-foot-6 and 303 pounds, the true sophomore is a prototype 3-4 end who has the size needed to hang in against a power running game. Most impressive, though, has been Tuitt's ability to get after the quarterback. With 12 sacks heading into the BCS Championship Game, the Georgian is just 1.5 shy of Justin Tuck's single-season school mark of 13.5.
Who he'll see the most of: Tuitt will flip sides on occasion, but expect to see him working mostly against UA right tackle DJ Fluker. Prepare for seismic activity to ensue.
SEC comparable: Not many 3-4 ends of Tuitt's size in the SEC. In fact, the guy who most resembles Tuitt from a physical standpoint can be found on Alabama's roster: 6-foot-6, 304-pound Quinton Dial.

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