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September 22, 2012

Manti Te'o

Notre Dame – 13
Michigan – 6

Q.  Are you guys starting to believe in yourselves now?
MANTI TE'O:  I mean, we've always believed that.  If you don't believe you can do something great, you're not going to do it.  We understand that we have to have confidence, but at the same time we have to back that up with hard work and practice and dedication and sacrifice.  I think with this team, we understand that.  We have to have a confidence about ourselves but also know ourselves enough to come to work every day and get better.

Q.  Being 4‑0 heading into the bye week, how does that feel?
MANTI TE'O:  It feels great.  It feels great to be 4‑0, especially going into a bye week, guys can heal up and just start to prepare for Miami.  Miami is a good team, so we have a good amount of time to prepare for them.

Q.  Can you describe the atmosphere and emotion tonight?
MANTI TE'O:  Man, I said it before:  Four years ago when I decided to come here, I didn't know why.  It's starting to unveil itself why, why I felt that I was told to come here.  I can't thank my team enough.  I can't thank the students and just the fan base around the world, Notre Dame and non‑Notre Dame fans.  They've been really great.
You know, it's just very humbling for me and my family, and I appreciate all the love and support that my family and my girlfriend's family has been getting.

Q.  What did you make of Spond tonight?  One of his best performances?
MANTI TE'O:  It was great, another confidence booster for him.  He's always a guy that doesn't say much, he just comes to work every day and gets better, and he's just constantly getting better.  He's always looking to get better, and the better he gets the better our defense is going to be.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
MANTI TE'O:  I mean, every position is important, and his position, it's difficult.  He's out in space sometimes, sometimes he's attached to the box.  You have to be versatile and be able to do multiple jobs, and Danny is a hard worker, he's a very smart player, and he comes to work every day trying to get better, and it showed tonight.

Q.  What did you see on both interceptions?
MANTI TE'O:  The ball.  (Laughter).

Q.  Was it really that simple?
MANTI TE'O:  I mean, I just saw the ball.  I was just trying to get to the ball.  I just tried to do whatever it took to help my team win, and I'm just glad that I was able to add interceptions to our team stats.  I don't know if that helped us win, but I'm glad we won.

Q.  What's different about this team than when you got here as a freshman?
MANTI TE'O:  You know, I think we were‑‑ we work hard.  Every team is different.  When I came in‑‑ every team is different.  This team is different from last year, and we're just constantly getting better, and I think the strength of the team is that camaraderie we have, that brotherhood that we demonstrate out there.  A lot of teams talk about it, but they don't‑‑ it isn't displayed on the field, and I think this team does a great job in displaying that brotherhood out there on the field day in and day out.

Q.  Talk about stopping Robinson out there, what was the key to that?
MANTI TE'O:  I think the key to stopping such a dynamic player like Denard is you just‑‑ everybody has to get to him.  Denard, he would start running one way, then totally cut back the other way.  Everybody has to get to the ball.  You have to really emphasize 11 guys to the ball, and I think our coaches have done a great job in stressing the importance of everybody getting to the ball.

Q.  How good did it feel to get those?
MANTI TE'O:  I mean, he's gotten me the past two years, and total Michigan's got me three years, so I'm just glad on my last one, on my last hurrah, I was finally able to have something to celebrate about, you know?

Q.  You might have already answered this, but two straight weeks without allowing a touchdown.  Is this maximizing your potential right now?
MANTI TE'O:  We know how good we can be.  The thing is, with performances like these, after last week's performance, we saw so many mistakes, so many things we could fix, and that just goes‑‑ that gives us energy.  That gives us energy knowing that we played a really good game, but yet we made a lot of mistakes.
The sky's the limit for not only this defense but for this team.  We're going to continue to get better and continue to focus on ourselves and focus on the fundamentals and just come to work every day getting better.

Q.  Have you ever been part of a pass like that?  Have you ever seen anything like that?
MANTI TE'O:  No, I don't think so.

Q.  Talk about your interceptions.  Did you guys see something this year that you were able to get those interceptions?
MANTI TE'O:  I think our defensive line did an amazing job in getting pressure on him, and whenever you get some pressure on any kind of quarterback and rush his throw and rush his progression, we have to as a defense try and do your job and read your keys and make plays.  I'm just glad that our defense came together and we worked together and everybody did their job and put our team in the best position to win.

Q.  What does it mean for the defense to have a game like this against a guy like Robinson?
MANTI TE'O:  I think it says a lot about our defense because Denard is going to continue to be Denard.  He's going to continue to make plays and do what Denard does.  We've just got to keep getting better, and today was just another step in the right direction.

Q.  You said the sky's the limit for this team.  How much more awareness and confidence and belief in that being possible because of what you guys have been able to do?
MANTI TE'O:  I think for us, like I said, we've always believed that we could be great.  Slowly but surely these little steps we're taking, it builds our confidence.  But I think the strength of this team is we don't buy into that hype.  We don't buy into all that stuff.  We just do whatever it takes to‑‑ we're 4‑0 now, and last week we were 3‑0, and all we were focusing on was to be 4‑0 and now all we're focusing on is to be 5‑0.  We approach every week the same, always trying to get better, always focusing on the next opponent.  We don't worry about opponents down the line.  I think that's where we really have helped nurture that feeling that the sky's the limit for this team.

Q.  Is it a source of pride that the defense has become the identity for this team?
MANTI TE'O:  I mean, I'm excited.  That brings a lot of excitement for the defense to make some plays.  We're going to continue to do what it takes to help our team win and help put our offense in the best situations to put points up on the board and just do our best to keep the offense‑‑ the opponent's offense out of the end zone.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
MANTI TE'O:  We were just running to the ball.  Coach Diaco put is in the best positions to make plays, but at the end of the day everybody has got to get to the ball and combine that with the scheme that we had, it turned out very positive.

Q.  Did you guys take anything from Alabama and what they did to Denard?
MANTI TE'O:  No, no.

Q.  Even in your wildest imagination did you dream about not allowing Michigan State and Michigan not to score a touchdown?
MANTI TE'O:  I think for us we're trying not to allow any kind of points.  I think when your defense is disappointed that they kicked a field goal and made it, that's when you know, like, dang, we're going to be good.  When they get a good drive in and at the end they kick a field goal and you get to the sideline and everybody is like, man, let's go, they shouldn't have got that far, that's the type of defense that we have.  Other guys would be like, yeah, yeah, we held them to a field goal, but this defense is like, come on, man.

Q.  Coach talked about this after the game and he's not that surprised at the pass rush of the front seven but with the progress made on the back end of this defense.
MANTI TE'O:  Yeah, we have‑‑ I think although Slaughter is not physically out there, he is that guy that all the guys turn to.  Before the game KeiVarae went up to him and told him, Jamoris, let me know what's going on, be my eyes out there.  So Jamoris is really an intricate part of our defense.
But Zeke and Matthias and Bennett and KeiVarae and all those guys that come in, they have a sense of pride that‑‑ they get a lot of pressure and they have a sense of pride in saying we're good, and we're going to continue to get better and we're going to put the work in necessary to be a powerful unit of this defense.

Q.  Do you know when you're going home?  Do you know that yet?
MANTI TE'O:  No, not yet, no yet.

Q.  The kind of reception you've gotten here the last week and a half, how has that been?
MANTI TE'O:  It's humbling, it's really humbling.  I love this school.  I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  He has a lei, too, and that lei for me, represents family.  It doesn't represent me.  It represents family, it represents everybody sticking together and everybody realizing what's important in life, and that's families sticking together and all this other stuff‑‑ all this worldly stuff, it's the same things from an internal perspective, I'm very humbled and I can't thank my fellow students enough, I can't thank the ND fans around the world, including non‑ND fans.  I've gotten a lot of support from some non‑ND fans, as well.  I'm very humbled and I love everybody, and thank you.

Q.  Do you feel like you guys are starting to get to the point where you guys can win games on your own if you have to?
MANTI TE'O:  I mean, we want to stop offenses from scoring, both scoring touchdowns and kicking field goals.  We've got some work to do, but we're heading in that direction.

Q.  When you prepared for Denard Robinson this week was there something you saw on film that made you think you could get to him and rattle him?
MANTI TE'O:  Talking about that, I want to give a big shout out to Nick Fitzpatrick.  Better write an article about Nick Fitzpatrick.  He was our Denard for the week on our scout team, and he's one of my good friends, and he did a wonderful job in trying to duplicate what Denard does.  He was running all over the field, and he gave us a great look along with the rest of the scout team.  Definitely we were prepared.  The coaches watched that film and drew up a great scheme to help us win, and the scout team headed by Nick Fitzpatrick really prepared us for today.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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