Manti Te'o and the Notre Dame defense couldn't stop Alabama's offense in the BCS title game. (John Bazemore/AP)
By Zac Ellis
Those who watched Alabama's drubbing of Notre Dame in January's BCS title game saw the Crimson Tide overwhelm the Irish's vaunted defense. While Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly can't argue with that assessment, he doesn't think the loss exposed one of the team's defensive stars.
Kelly defended the play of star linebacker Manti Te'o, who was one of the country's top defensive players and a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 2012. Kelly was asked in an NFL Network interview whether Te'o was exposed against Alabama, to which he simply replied, "No."
Instead, Kelly contended that his team did not play up to its potential against a hungry Crimson Tide team.
“I at first felt that we got pushed around a little bit, but as we watched more film, I think our guys didn’t play their very best, and Alabama obviously played very well in that game. But I think as people watched more film, and saw Manti Te’o and his body of work over the last four years, they came to their own conclusion that this is a very, very good football player.”
Te'o tallied 10 tackles in the 42-14 loss to Alabama, which closed his college career. He is projected as a late first-round NFL pick in many mock drafts.