Te'o has been playing hurt
Manti Te'o had arguably his best game of the season against Navy, when he had 13 tackles, half a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss.
"He had an opportunity to prepare himself," defensive coordinator Bob Diaco said. "He hadn't had an opportunity to prepare himself at times. He has been less than healthy. He is just starting to get to a point where he can practice. At a particular point when you're not practicing as much as you would like to, things start to slip back. Very few people can go out there and not practice and have all the timing and fundamentals down."
The junior inside linebacker played against Air Force despite a high ankle sprain, and played well. He downplayed that injury afterwards, but Diaco intimated that there may have been other injuries or that the ankle injury was more serious than previously believed. He would not elaborate. When asked if an average player would not have played with the njury or injuries, Diaco said: "Absolutely."
"Down the stretch he has had bumps and bruises that have limited his ability to prepare like he would normally like to during the week," Diaco said when asked if last week was as healthy as Te'o has been this season.
He also said the Te'o is willing to do whatever is required during practice but the coaching staff has "managed" him because he has been less than 100 percent.
"Mentally, he's ready for the job," Diaco said. "Energy-wise, he's ready for the game. There is nothing to point at. The fact of the matter is whatever happened, practices needed to be managed leading up to that point that related to his timing and fundamental play. That is unfortunately the nature of the beast as it relates to football."
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