Oct. 27, 2010
An Interview With: Manti T’eo and Harrison Smith
Q. Manti, looks like Kona (Schwenke) probably is going to play this week according to Coach Kelly, same sort of journey as you; will you help him at all this week?
Manti Te’o: Yeah, of course there’s certain connections because we are from the same town and kind of grew up together. For him, I tell him the same thing, just be calm, it’s football. Just go out there and play your game. Don’t be distracted by the fans. Your first time out there will be kind of nerve wracking, but just get those butterflies out and just play your game. That’s basically it.
Q. Could you talk about this offense you’re facing this week, what it reminds you of, how different it is from maybe anything else that you guys have faced?
Manti Te’o: I think it kind of reminds us of Michigan, the way they run their offense. They have great offensive weapons, play makers that can make plays. We are just preparing for them and very aware of what they can do, what they have done, and we are working to stop that.
Q. Harrison, it seems like spread offense although they like to run first, would that be accurate?
Harrison Smith:Yeah, you can say that. They have got a lot of weapons, they have got fast guys that go up the edge and big guys that can run up the middle. And the quarterback, he can throw it whenever he needs to. So they have really got pretty much everything either on the edge or up the middle. So you just have to kind of work on defending each aspect of that, every play?
Q. In terms of the quarterback, who he just reminds you of or is reminiscent of anybody come to mind?
Manti Te’o: I don’t think anybody that we played so far. He’s his own kind of athlete. He kind of who were you saying? Brett Farve? He has a very strong arm, just fling it and he’s not afraid to go deep. So when you have that kind of a weapon at quarterback, you’ve got to respect his abilities to throw.
Q. Harrison, you’ve been around for the three losses, as a postscript, Harrison, you’ve been around for the three losses, but is it getting to the point where maybe Navy is getting in your head a little bit in terms of dealing with the cut blocks and so much emphasis placed on the cut blocks that maybe it puts you on your heels a little bit?
Harrison Smith:I wouldn’t say that. There’s a lot of teams that cut block, maybe not as much as Navy, but that’s something that we see. But really at this point, that’s a game that is already gone. So we’ve just got to move on. We’ve got to focus on Tulsa right now because we’ve got to get a win.
Manti Te’o: Just like Harrison said, we remember what happened this past weekend, but that’s college football, there’s another game coming up and we are focusing on Tulsa and we need to win.
Q. Coach Kelly said yesterday that he has not found those senior leaders on the team and it’s more of a collective effort; do you guys feel like it might be your responsibility to jump out as those individual leaders?
Harrison Smith:Yeah, especially starting in practice, you just kind of got to show up with that attitude that it’s pretty much game day in practice, every day is just putting everything into it and watching film, just kind of doing everything that we can to be prepared before the game comes around throughout the whole week. That’s the other thing that other guys will see and they will start doing, too.
Manti Te’o: Yeah, I think you just have to prepare yourself for that responsibility. You have to stay late and you have to watch more film than everybody else is willing to watch. You have to stay after lifts and stuff. So when you are put in that position where you have to step up and be a leader, you’re able to. You’re not one that’s going to be hypocritical or something. As far as myself, I always try to be a great leader and a great teammate to my brothers out there. So yeah, definitely have to step up in that role, whoever it is.
Q. Why is it important to have a handful of guys stick out, having more leadership skills?
Manti Te’o: I think that’s important certain can connect more with certain players. Harrison can connect more with the secondary I can connect more with the front seven, and collectively we can get a better feel of what the different areas of our defense needs, what he is going through, like what Harrison is going through back there at secondary, like what DarrIn (Walls) is going through at corner; having a collective group of leaders helps us to better grasp what’s going on.
Q. How tough was the last few days in class, maybe talking to friends, just trying to regroup?
Harrison Smith:To me that’s not what’s tough. Just losing a game is always tough, and after you lose a game, there’s nothing you can do except move forward. So, you know, going to class, those things don’t bother me, different things like that. Just knowing that we have to move forward is pretty much all I can think about, focusing on Tulsa now.
Manti Te’o: Yeah, the same, what people say, people don’t really say anything. It’s just a weekend where the outcome wasn’t didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, and now it’s on to the next opponent and it’s on to Tulsa. We are working so that the outcome this weekend falls into our hands.
Q. How have you guys moved on? What have you done to make sure there is no lag like there was after the loss to Navy?
Manti Te’o: We came in, watched film, corrected mistakes, looked at what went wrong and what went right. We looked at those things and learned from that and turned that page to the next chapter, and the next chapter’s Tulsa.
Harrison Smith:Like Coach (Kelly) always said, we have a 24 hour rule and it’s really just an attitude you come back with, are you going to come back down and out and let another one slip away this week, or are you going to come in here and get ready to go from day one and do the best job you can to beat Tulsa. That’s kind of where it starts.
Q. Is that a different mentality from maybe last year, a different mind set that you guys have, that you have confidence that it won’t be like how it was in the past?
Harrison Smith: Maybe, just because last year we didn’t win after we lost to Navy, I think especially some of the older guys, that really bothers us. So you could just tell in practice, it’s not like we just showed up that practice yesterday just to get through practice. Everybody was there trying to learn and trying to get the most we could out of practice. That’s kind of something that we need.
Q. Can you guys just each talk about losing Ian (Williams)? I know the mentality is next man in, but obviously that’s a very tough guy to lose, so what does he bring to the table.
Manti Te’o: Yeah, I can speak to that. Personally for me, I’m going to miss Ian (Williams) a lot. He took a lot of attention off of me, you know, from offenses and to the line and a lot of attention off Carlo (Calabrese) and a lot of attention off a lot of guys. He’s such a dynamic player, he can do certain things; if you don’t block him, you know, he’s going to make plays. And sometimes they even double teamed him. That freed me up, especially, a lot. So having him go down, that’s a big impact on our defense, but you know, the next guy has to step up. The next guy has to get ready, and we’ll make sure that they are ready. As a middle linebacker, I’ll make sure that whoever steps in there knows what’s going on and he knows where to be and where to go. And Ian’s out there trying to help out himself, so you know, we just got to move forward.
Q. Just to follow up on Brian’s question on Kona (Schwenke), what can we expect from Kona? What kind of player is he? We haven’t seen much of him.
Manti Te’o: Kona (Schwenke) is very fearless, he’s a fearless player who has a natural ability and a natural nose for the ball. He always just wants to make his plays, and he’s not really a yapper. He doesn’t really talk a lot. He’s just a “yes, sir” kind of guy. He works hard, and I know from watching him in high school, he’ll give it his all at every play. And so he’s a big presence on the defensive line, and he has great technique. So he just has to get more comfortable out there.
Q. Did you face him in high school? Did you face him? Did you play Kahuku? Was he a teammate of yours the year you were at that school?
Manti Te’o: No. I actually just watched him play, because he was he made it not to go back so far, but we made it to semifinals. And the semifinal game was us at Farrington and Kahuku and Punahou, before that I watched him play. Growing up I always went to Kahuku games and throughout my high school games I went to Kahuku games and watched them. He deserves to be here. I’m sure he’ll show it on Saturday when he gets in there.