ORLANDO, Fla. -- Manti Te'o sprang out of his linebacker's stance and
pointed to a teammate to have him move a few yards over against the
Florida State offense during the fourth quarter of the Champs Sports
Bowl. Just as quickly, Te'o re-set, ready to pounce on the Seminoles.
Florida State ran away from Te'o on that play, and the player who made
the tackle was the one Te'o had redirected. Te'o ran to the player,
gave him a slap on the helmet, and immediately got back to the
business of leading the Irish defense.
Te'o, a 6-2. 255-pound linebacker, punished Florida State ballcarriers
for 13 tackles (seven unassisted), and was in on a sack and a tackle
for loss in Thursday's Champs Sports Bowl. The Irish jackhammer also
forced a fumble that teammate Zeke Motta scooped up and sprinted 29
yards for the first Irish touchdown.
Although Te'o's efforts couldn't save the Irish in an 18-14 loss, his
bruising impact and leadership clearly sets a tone for where the Irish
want to go defensively next season.
"That linebacker, Te'o, he's a great, great player," Florida State
left tackle Zebrie Sanders said after the game. "He had a knack for
finding the ball. He had a knack for moving the defense. He was