It has been pretty sweet being Eddie Lacy lately. After putting up a career-best, 181-yard, two-touchdown MVP performance in the Southeastern Conference title game, Alabama’s leading rusher was featured on the cover of last week’s Sports Illustrated.
“I like it because it was my first time being on the cover of anything,” a smiling Lacy said Thursday morning as he and four teammates on the Crimson Tide’s offense — quarterback AJ McCarron, linemen Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones, and receiver Kevin Norwood — met with the media in a Fort Lauderdale resort to preview Monday’s BCS National Championship Game.
“I like the fact it’s not just me, too. It’s got the offensive lineman [left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio] who helped me get into the end zone.”
Although Lacy (6-0, 220 pounds) and fellow 1,000-yard running back T.J. Yeldon (6-2, 216) have enjoyed running behind one of the nation’s best offensive lines to the tune of 224.6 yards per game, they are well aware of how stingy the Irish are on defense.
Notre Dame (12-0) not only ranked first nationally in scoring defense, fourth in rushing defense and sixth in total defense, but also the Irish allowed just two rushing touchdowns all season.
The eight overall touchdowns on 33 red-zone trips (24.2 percent) allowed by the Irish is also by far the lowest percentage in the past five years in college football.
“It’s a challenge,” Lacy said. “And we embrace it. We’re going to try to score more than two touchdowns.”
Lacy, considered the second-best, draft-eligible running back behind North Carolina’s Gio Bernard (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas), according to NFLDraftScout.com, said Thursday he has no idea if he will forgo his senior season and declare for April’s draft.
• Receiver Kenny Bell, who led Alabama with 25.4 yards per catch but broke his leg in the regular-season finale against Auburn, wore a black noncontact jersey but participated in individual drills during Thursday’s practice at Barry University.
Fellow receiver Norwood told reporters earlier in the day that he thinks Bell, who has 17 catches (sixth-most on the team), will play Monday.
• The Crimson Tide attended the Mavericks-Heat game Wednesday night.
“ LeBron [ James] is just a freak of nature,” center Jones said. “If we had caught him right in high school we could have talked him into playing [defensive] end or possibly tight end. He’s just a big guy.”
Notre Dame safety Zeke Motta was born in Miami but grew up in Vero Beach.
“I lived in Miami until after Hurricane Andrew — until I was 3,” he said. “I don’t remember too much.”
He described South Florida as “beautiful. I love it. I love Florida in general — the whole east coast, west coast. It gets too hot in the middle.”
Speaking of hot, Motta admitted it is much hotter “here” compared to South Bend, Ind.
“We were trying to simulate that in our indoor facility with heaters,” he said. “But it will definitely take an adjustment.”
• The Irish practiced at Nova Southeastern on Thursday, and coach Brian Kelly said he was grateful the Dolphins are allowing Notre Dame to use their facilities.
“The Miami Dolphins have been incredible,” Kelly said. “ Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland — a classy group …”
Kelly said it had been “a long time” since his team practiced outside.
“Acclimatizing to the weather and getting our guys to catch the ball in the open spaces are all things that matter a little bit in terms of getting your timing,” he said, adding that the warm weather forces his players “to pay attention to their bodies.
“They have to hydrate and get in the cold tubs … so we’re starting to get back to that normalcy.”