Notre Dame had clear stars this season. But, they also had players who did the dirty work and were the glue that held the significant pieces together. These key performances were the reason that Notre Dame was 12-0 instead of 8-4.
Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o was the clear cut leader on Defense this season. However, if it were not for the performance and leadership of Zeke Motta, Notre Dame would not have had the season that it did on Defense. Motta was the director of traffic in the Secondary for the Fighting Irish.
Zeke Motta committed to the Fighting Irish on October 9th of 2008 and enrolled early at Notre Dame. The Safety from Vero Beach, Florida has played every year he has been at Notre Dame. In that time, he has been in and out of the starting lineup. This year, Motta started all 12 games at Safety. This season was by far his best in his career.
Motta collected 60 tackles, which was 2nd best on the team behind Te’o. He also had 2 tackles for loss and 2 passes broken up. More importantly, with a young Notre Dame Secondary, Motta was able to lead the team and make sure that the young players were in position. This was critical to a team who’s one significant weakness before the season was their Secondary.
Notre Dame started three players (Jackson, Russell and Farley) in the secondary who had never started before this season. Motta was influential in making sure that these players knew what they were doing. There were no significant breakdowns in the secondary this season. The Defense only allowed 3 teams over 200 yards passing and 1 team over 300. Zeke Motta was key to Notre Dame’s 2012 resurgence.