On the fourth play from scrimmage during Notre Dame's 21-6 victory over Boston College on Saturday night at Alumni Stadium, the Irish linebacker put his head down, blew through the Eagles line and made a beeline for quarterback Chase Rettig. The result was a hurried pass that came nowhere close to intended receiver Alex Amidon and a forced punt.
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"Everybody did their job," Te'o said. "Nobody really stepped out of the framework of the defense. Even though there were some reverses, screens and a lot of those types of plays, we kept them out of the end zone."
Coach Brian Kelly was impressed with the job Te'o and the defense did.
"He's the leader of our defense," Kelly said. "We got frustrated at times (Saturday). Some of our kids got frustrated. They have to be able to keep their composure and they have a leader out there in Manti who is keeping the guys under control. When you need a big play he's going to be around the football."
He certainly was in the fourth quarter when his interception of a deflected pass was his sixth of the season, a school record for linebackers.
"I'm proud of my guys," Te'o said. "There were some plays you thought you were at Disney World. There were Mickey Mouse plays everywhere — reverses and screens. That was the most screens I ever defended in one game. Everybody just flew to the ball. When something happened somebody was there."
Te'o was intent to make up for a low-key performance the previous week when the senior was quiet and finished with seven tackles in Notre Dame's 29-26 triple-overtime victory over Pittsburgh on Nov. 3 at South Bend, Ind. That performance may have a put dent in Te'o's long shot Heisman Trophy hopes, but it didn't stop the fourth-ranked Irish on their quest for a national title as they improved to 10-0.
Te'o had no problem identifying the problems against Pitt.
"Just 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're going to end up not doing too well."
Against Boston College, the Irish bent a little but did not break as they limited the Eagles to 300 yards of total offense — just 53 on the ground. The unit did a whole lot more reacting to what the Eagles were doing than anticipating — a change from the Pitt contest.
"(We were) trying to … anticipate plays, guess on plays (and) a lot of different scenarios," Te'o said of playing the Panthers. "When we started to settle down, that's when we started to make some plays. That was our lesson right there. When we started playing within the defense, that's when things started to work out."
With five total tackles against Boston College, Te'o now has 46 unassisted, 46 assisted, 51/2 tackles for loss and 11/2 sacks.