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Irish Insights


Defense learns a lesson

Notre Dame didn't have a strong defensive start against Pittsburgh in last Saturday's 29-26 triple-overtime victory.

Pitt running back Ray Graham broke loose for 55 yards on the Panthers' first offensive play, and Pittsburgh took a 10-6 lead into halftime.

It got worse in the third quarter as the Panthers added put the Irish in a 20-6 hole entering the fourth quarter. But the Irish buckled down on defense and held Pitt to just eight yards in the fourth quarter as the offense came back to tie the game.

The No. 4 Irish (9-0) won 29-26 in triple-overtime, but linebacker Manti Te'o said the defense learned a lesson as the Panthers racked up 308 yards on them and Graham gained 172 yards.

"I think it was thinking too much, trying to do too much, and not just keeping football simple," Te'o said. "Football is a simple sport. If you try to complicate it, you are going to end up not doing so well. It was a learning experience, and we will be better from it."

Another thing that was learned in the win was that Te'o can be quieted for a while but not an entire game.

The senior had only one tackle in the first half, but in the second half and overtime, Te'o racked up six tackles, including one for a loss and assisting on a sack.

Linebacker Dan Fox said Te'o was not affected by not being a major factor in the opening half as Pitt tried to stay away from the star middle linebacker.

"He's not really about that personal, statistical game," Fox said. "He just wants to win. Of course, if the defense isn't playing well, he is upset about that. It is not because he doesn't have a pick or tackles."

Now Notre Dame will travel to Boston College (2-7) on Saturday, and Te'o said the defense will remember what happened against the Panthers when they face the Eagles.

"That was our lesson, when we started playing within the defense things worked out," Te'o said.