Te'o admits he was "hurt" by Kelly's words
Manti Te'o spoke with the media Wednesday for the first time since after the USC game. The junior linebacker called the days since Notre Dame's loss to the Trojans a "roller coaster" and admitted he was stung by comments made by coach Brian Kelly last week that prompted angry players to respond via Twitter before Kelly apologized.
"I'm going to be honest, I was hurt," Te'o said. "But like everybody said, this is a family, and we deal with it as a family and we dealt with it on Friday. Everything was fine and everything is back to normal. We walked back in on Saturday ready to play against Navy. We demonstrated that no matter what happens, nothing can break apart a family."
Te'o's teammates said he was focused more than he has been all season in the days leading up the Navy game. That may have had something to do with the loss to USC. Te'o planned on playing for the Trojans until making a last-minute switch to Notre Dame.
He responded with 13 tackles, half a sack and 2 1/2 tackles for loss against the Midshipmen.
"I'm not that much of a yeller," Te'o said. I"'m not that much of a rah-rah kind of guy. I was never that type of player. But I found myself being more of a rah-rah type of guy and trying to get everybody pumped. I think that by trying to be that kind of player that I lost who I was.
"So I told Coach [Bob] Diaco before the game, I said, 'Coach, I hope you don't mind but I'm just going to be pretty quiet. I'm going to be humble and I'm not going to say anything that much; if I need to say something, I'm going to say it. But I'm not going to yell and I'm not going to try to get everybody pumped up.'
"And it worked out well, because our captain, our leader, Harrison [Smith], said the things he needed to say before the game and got everybody going and got me going and really helped me to focus even more.
"So I guess that's what they are talking about is just how I didn't say much and I was focusing on every single snap and just trying to help my team win."
Diaco said Tuesday that Te'o was so effective against Navy because he was finally healthy enough to prepare during practice during the week. According to Diaco, the coaching staff had to "manage" Te'o during practices before recent games as he recovered from a high ankle sprain and other injuries.
"It has just been injuries, lingering injuries. I've been trying to fight through it. I've been getting treatment and doing whatever I can physically out on the practice field.
"It's definitely hard for me, because I look at it as, you know, No. 5 is not practicing, but he's also playing. I look at it from the eyes of my teammates, and I wouldn't want that, for my teammates to see that.
"Basically I try to prepare myself mentally as much as I can and I try to watch a lot of film, and with Harrison, watching film -- Harrison watches so much film it's crazy. He and I, I try to prepare with him, ask him what he's seen out there in practice and listen to the coaches, what they are saying and ask the guys out there who are practicing, what they are saying; so that it's not such a shock when I get out there on game day."
How is Te'o feeling heading into Saturday's game against Wake Forest?
"I'm feeling a lot more healthy," he said. "Every day that goes by, every day, every time I get treatment, I feel healthier and healthier, so it's good."
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