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Irish QB Golson among Alabama's most challenging tests

by | CBSSports.com
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- When last confronted by a mobile quarterback, No. 2 Alabama failed the test.

If the Crimson Tide want to win the BCS National Championship Game on Monday night, however, they must pass the test now posed by Notre Dame QB Everett Golson.

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"The scrambling ability that he has, that could be challenging at any time in the game," junior cornerback Dee Milliner said. "He can get out of the pocket and then you've got receivers that can break up the field back to the ball anywhere on the field and he's looking for the cracks and holes. He's not trying to take off. When he's scrambling, he's not looking to take off running -- he's looking to throw the ball."

Golson has had a year in which he was repeatedly benched, suspended, rallied his team for come-from-behind victories and ultimately led No. 1 Notre Dame to a 12-0 season. Because Alabama's lone loss on the year came at the hands of Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel, the Tide defense could struggle with Golson, who has a skill set similar to the Heisman Trophy winner.

Against Alabama, Manziel went 24-for-31 for 253 passing yards with two touchdowns and added 92 rushing yards.

"I think we're a lot more prepared for it," Alabama senior safety Robert Lester said. "We faced it a couple of times this year. Seeing it for the third or fourth time, I think it will make it a lot easier in this game."

Although Golson struggled at the beginning of the season, his play has steadily improved, most notably in Notre Dame's 30-13 victory against Oklahoma on Oct. 27, when he totaled 247 yards of total offense, one touchdown and played virtually mistake-free football.

"He's going to be a better, quicker athlete than the people we have up front. If they can play with pass-rush discipline, they're going to give us an opportunity to affect him with coverage or affect him with pressure," Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said. "That's what we are always trying to do, affect the quarterback in some kind of way. But he's good at breaking it."

In Alabama's practices leading up the BCS Championship Game, sophomore QB Blake Sims has simulated Golson's play on the Crimson Tide scout team.

"When [Golson] gets out of the pocket," Milliner said, "hopefully he sees the wrong things and throws the ball to the wrong color."

Follow Lorenzo Reyes @LReyesCBS

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