SOUTH BEND – Notre Dames home game against Boston College on Saturday will feature two of the nations top inside linebackers.
Junior Manti Teo will be in the middle of every thing the Irish (7-3) do on defense, just as junior Luke Kuechly will be at the center of the Eagles (3-7) defense.
I think clearly theyre very similar in terms of the intangibles that they bring, and both are very, very productive, coach Brian Kelly said Tuesday.
Kuechlys 168 tackles leads the FBS, and his tackle total is 30 more than the next closest guys and 77 more than Teos.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pounder has the longest active streak of games with double-digit tackles with 32 after recording 18 in last weekends 14-10 win over North Carolina State.
Hes really Boston Colleges Manti Teo, to summarize it, offensive coordinator Charley Molnar said. Youre aware of him every single play, and how you are blocking him and whos blocking him. Its just a matter of, are you going to double-team him each and every time? And if you do, what are you giving up?
Teos lower total tackle number (91) stems from his having more help on defense than Kuechly. Notre Dame is No. 36 in the nation in total defense, giving up 350.6 yards per game, and Boston College is No. 69, giving up 394.8 yards per game.
The 6-2, 255-pounder is tied for second in sacks by a linebacker with 4 1/2 and is fifth in tackles for a loss with 11.
Manti Teo is a rare player, rare, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said, comparing him to Chris Long, a standout at Virginia while Diaco was the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator from 2006-08.
I was on the staff, and he was a defensive player. He was unique. I hadnt been around (someone like) him before or since, before Manti. Its like every 10 years, 20 years. They dont just come back on the team. Hes a rare player.