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Irish Insights


Te'o's take

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said linebacker Manti Te'o will be used as an example for all defensive players.

Kelly said Te'o played with a will to win and a tenacity that all players should try to mimic.

For Te'o, he doesn't see himself as doing anything different, and while he is reluctant to talk about getting others to play like him, he said he will lead when called upon.

"Just keep going out there, working hard and help motivate my teammates," Te'o said. "It is great to have the teammates I have. I'm not the only guy out there doing well. It took the 10 other guys on the field to put up the numbers that I did. It is a team effort.

"I understand that everybody has a role, and whatever my role is, if it is that kind of role, whatever it takes to win."

The next step for Te'o will be to elevate the play of those around him.

And while players can follow his example, they will also have to decide for themselves that it is time to play better.

"I think you can decide to be a better football player," safety Harrison Smith said. "I think with a lot of the guys, it is mostly mental. There is a point where you say, I am going to be a better football player. I think when that happens, when you start paying attention to the details that is when you become a better football player."

Te'o gave credit for his 21-tackle performance, though Kelly said he only counted 19 on the game film, against Stanford to the defensive line.

"As a linebacker, you are only as good as your D-line. Quarterbacks are only as good as his O-line, it is the same thing. If you don't have a great group of D-linemen, who are strong, quick, can occupy offensive lineman and still make plays, you won't get as many yourself.

Te'o said he still sees things to clean up after the Stanford game.

He talked about getting caught up on blocks and getting called for clipping after Jamoris Slaughter's second-quarter interception.

And most importantly, he learned when and when not to look at the game officials.

"On that face mask, I felt the guys face mask. I didn't know if the ref saw it, so I immediately looked at him, and I shouldn't have looked at him," Te'o said. "When I looked at him, he looked at me and he pulled his flag out. I was like, 'Dang, he got me.' I now know not to look a the ref when I accidently grab a face mask."