The senior linebacker is the heart of the Fighting Irish defense, leading the team in multiple statistical categories. Among the categories he leads are solo tackles (16), total tackles (38), interceptions (3) and fumbles recovered (2).
Te'o is going to find himself in the middle of plays once again with Miami's dynamic duo at running back. Duke Johnson and Mike James have combined for 567 total rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the year. Neither back is showing signs of slowing down either.
Georgia Tech especially had trouble with James last week, as he scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Te'o can't let that happen on his watch.
Notre Dame's veteran leader will step up once again, just as he's done throughout his career. In big games, Te'o has never been silent.
Simply put, Te'o shows up every time he steps out on the field. His play against the run and with passes over the middle will force Miami to take other measures.
However, there are other Irish players that need to have a monster game as well against Miami.
To say the sophomore quarterback has struggled would be an understatement.
Golson has completed 50 passes for 641 yards and three touchdowns. What's troubling is the three interceptions he's thrown, two of which came against Michigan.
Miami is allowing 226.3 passing yards per game, which gives Golson something to work with. With five freshmen and sophomores on the two-deep depth chart in the secondary, this is what Golson must exploit.
He needs to improve his decision-making. The mistakes he made against Michigan can't be repeated.
After Tommy Rees replaced him against Michigan, Golson knows he has to step up against Miami. If he doesn't, Rees will take over the starting job permanently.
As one of the starting receivers for the Irish, Jones has to do better than 11 receptions over four games.
Jones must demand the ball more if the Irish passing game is going to be taken seriously.
While his first two seasons in South Bend (Ind.) were unimpressive, Jones knows he has to step up this year. The box score needs to show him with at least four or five receptions per game.
If Jones can get the ball more, nothing but good things will come out of it for the Irish.
After intercepting the ball twice against Purdue, Jackson has continued his dominance in the secondary.
Jackson had another interception against Michigan last week and will look for even more against Miami.
Miami has shown it has no problem passing the ball a lot, throwing 52 times against Georgia Tech.
Jackson will be the key cog in the Irish secondary. By breaking up plays early, Jackson will force Miami quarterback Stephen Morris to look elsewhere.
While more players will have to step up for the Irish to win, these four are the most important.
If these four players do what all Irish fans know they are capable of, the rest of the team will fall in line. And when the rest of the team falls in line, it results in one thing—a victory.
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