Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco and All-American linebacker Manti Te’o met with the media on Thursday in Miami to talk about Alabama and the upcoming BCS National Championship game on Monday. Here are some notes from what they had to say along with the full video.
Notes are below the video which as a warning is 51 minutes long so if you are looking to kill some time this morning, go ahead and click play. If you just want the Cliff’s Notes version, scroll down a little.
- Manti Te’o has worn #5 since he was a little kid. Why? Because when he started to play football his dad asked what number he wanted to be and since he was 5 years old at the time he picked #5 and it has stuck with him since.
- Te’o said that it was not too difficult to reacclimate back to practicing after his award circuit travel show. Bob Diaco mentioned that Te’o has actually elevated his level of play in practice since the award circuit ended.
- Te’o praised teammate Zeke Motta’s work ethic, along with the work ethic of Prince Shembo, stating that Motta and Shembo are two players that inspire him. Diaco also praised the physical and mental toughness of Motta on top of his work ethic.
- Diaco talked about how the Notre Dame defense has not focused on a “big picture” type moment but rather they focus on being the best defense they can possibly be every given day and that intense focus has allowed them to excel on the field.
- Te’o said that one moment that stood out to him was a day over the summer when the team was given a voluntary workout after a tough conditioning workout in June and the entire team stayed in the Gug for the lift even though they were all tired.
- Manti talked about the bond that they have with the Notre Dame coaches describing it as a family atmosphere. In terms of how long it took for that bond to occur, Te’o couldn’t put his finger on an exact moment, but rather a gradual process.
- When asked about the success Notre Dame has had with goal-line stands this season, Diaco said that it’s a result of the players knowing exactly what to do and playing together as a unit.
- Diaco mentioned that his Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country is really a staff accomplishment.
- The ’10 Navy game came up and Te’o praised the coaches for the development of the players and in their understanding of what is expected of them for what has allowed Notre Dame to reach the low of that game to the high of arriving in South Bend for the BCS Championship game.
- Diaco praised AJ McCarron for being the driver of the Alabama team stating that he puts the offense in position to be successful and doesn’t make poor decisions with the football. Te’o praised McCarron for the same attributes as well.
- Te’o said that the Irish relish the match-up with Alabama because of the style of play that they bring. As a linebacker he is looking forward to the challenge of defending the strong running game the Crimson Tide possess.
- Te’o said that Hawaii and South Bend are similar in that the people are very loving and caring and he saw that once he built down the walls that he built when he first got to Notre Dame and let people in.
- Diaco said that Brian Kelly is the best boss in the country and that the difference in Kelly this year can be attributed to the normal progression of a coach stepping into a new situation as Kelly did coming to Notre Dame. Te’o, meanwhile, noted that Kelly took more time to get to know the players on a personal level this off-season.
- Both Te’o and Diaco heaped praise on Danny Spond for being able to come back from a scary pre-season injury and be one of the players of the year for the Irish defense.