Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o knows what it is like to be thrust into an important role in your first college season.
The 6-foot-2, 255-pound senior played in all 12 games of his freshman season, starting 10 games.
So Te'o is one of the best players to help quarterback Everett Golson, who didn't play as a freshman, as the sophomore navigates his way through his first year as the No. 9 Irish's starting quarterback.
"You know, our conversation, I just told him, 'You know, I have always been a believer that a player's best friend is his confidence; if a player doesn't have confidence, he's not going to be very good,' " Te'o said. "And if you're here at Notre Dame, you are here for a reason; you're here because you can play football. You're here because of a lot of reasons. But if you don't have that confidence that you had, you're not going to be successful.
"With every young player, the hardest thing to do is not necessarily learn to play, but just have the confidence that you can make plays, and it's just like riding a bike; once it happens, it will be easy. And so with Everett, I think that's something that he's trying to fight through every day."
Golson will start when Notre Dame (4-0) plays Miami (4-1) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Chicago's Soldier Field, even though Golson was replaced by Tommy Rees in the first half against Michigan in Notre Dame's last game before the bye week.
Te'o said the 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore will continue to grow as a player because Golson has a desire to improve.
"The thing about Everett is he's always looking to get better," Te'o said. "I'm not the one that pulls him on the side. He's the one that actually comes up to me and asks me, 'What am I doing; what can I do better; what does the offense look like from your point of view?' "
Coach Brian Kelly calls Golson a work in progress, and he hasn't lost faith in a quarterback who has only finished two games this season.
"An analogy that I like to use is, he's still cooking," Kelly said. "We've taken him out of the oven. He's still learning all of the things that are not necessarily visible from game film. He's still learning how to effectively communicate, and how he's able to lead, and all of those things. So every practice day is a day of his development."