Manti Te’o Might be Georgia’s Third Best Linebacker
What is it that makes Manti Te’o so good? If you think I’m opening an inspirational story of his rise to prominence by posing that question then you are sadly mistaken. I’m asking in all sincereity why Manti Te’o is supposed to be good? I’ve watched him play four complete games this year and I just don’t get it. He makes tackles. Yes. He makes interceptions when balls are thrown directly at him. Yes. He doesn’t do much else. He doesn’t dominate the game.
I don’t give linebackers a lot of credit for making tackles because that’s exactly what they’re supposed to do. You can’t measure the success of a defensive tackle statistically. A great DT may not make a tackle but he may dominate the game by taking up two blockers, creating space for other blitzers and pushing the line back. A shutdown cornerback may not be thrown at all game and thus may not register a single statistic – but that means he had a great game. On the other hand, you can gauge a lot of what linebackers do by looking at numbers. Because their job is to make tackles and occasionally force turnovers.
Manti Te’o makes tackles. A lot of them. But not an exorbitant count. Te’o has 103 total tackles this year through 12 games for an average just above 8.5 per game. I think he plays a lot like a bigger version of Rennie Curran – a sure tackler from Georgia’s recent past. In 2009 Rennie played in 13 games and registered 130 tackles. That’s a lot more per game than Te’o. Rennie wasn’t a Heisman candidate and rarely was front-page news for ESPN. He did his job and did it well, but in 2009 that wasn’t noteworthy.
This year Alec Ogletree has played in just 8 games for Georgia but trails Te’o by only 16 total tackles. ‘Tree is averaging 10.875 tackles per game. That is more than Te’o. I like to look at solo tackles as well – you know the ones players make by themselves without teammates’ help. Te’o averages 4.33 per game. That’s pretty cool I guess. If you don’t to average 5.63 like Alec Ogletree.
So maybe it’s the turnovers that make Manti so special. In 12 games he’s intercepted 7 passes and recovered 2 fumbles. That is .75 turnovers per game. Well, Jarvis Jones has an interception to go with two fumble recoveries and six other turnovers forced. That’s the same number of turnovers but Jones has only played 10 games.
I don’t know that Te’o is deserving of any Heisman talk because I think he’d be the third best linebacker at the University of Georgia – at best. He doesn’t have the tackling stats that Alec Ogletree has. His 5.5 tackles for loss trail both Ogletree (7.5) and Jones (19.5) by a lot. His 1.5 sacks are fewer than ‘Tree (2) and significantly less than SacMan (10.5). And his turnover statistics don’t surpass those of Jarvis Jones.
Stop talking about Manti Te’o and I’ll stop writing about him.
That’s all I got/