"We're obviously making some progress," said Teti, 55, a former Upper Darby resident and graduate of Monsignor Bonner High and St. Joseph's University.
The all-for-one, one-for-all Olympic eights are an ultimate team sport. Therefore, they are right up Teti's alley.
"I'm one of 10 kids," he said. "So this is like being in a family of 10: eight rowers, a coxswain, and a coach, right?
"Nobody in my family was an engineer, but that's OK. I understand them and they understand me. I try to put it back on them. I tell them, 'They're a good boat and you know you're a good boat, but if you don't perform in the race, no one's going to know that.'
"These guys have already achieved a lot to this point. Sometimes we've had bad starts. Sometimes the middle of our race wasn't too good, a little weak. Sometimes it's been our finish," he continued.
"I was never very good at math. But these guys, they're engineers. They understand this stuff. They always come up with solutions."
Once upon a time, the United States virtually owned the men's classic eight-oar event on the world stage, winning 12 Olympic golds, including eight consecutive victories from 1920 through 1956. But nothing is forever, and the rest of the world caught up in a hurry. Olympic rowing is more diverse, more global than ever before. Team USA has won the eights just twice since 1956 - at the Tokyo Games in 1964 and in Athens in 2004.
The situation seemed to hit rock bottom after the United States endured a lackluster 2011 campaign and appeared to be headed for elimination from London 2012 action a year before the Games even began. To the relief of American rowing fans, who had begun fearing the worst, it took an emotional triumph this past May, in the FISA Last Chance Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, for the United States to earn its return ticket to the Games.
It also took a Mike Teti to lead the Americans out of this dilemma. A three-time Olympic rower and a bronze medalist in 1988, he had piloted Team USA's eight to Olympic gold at Athens in 2004.
But the United States was facing a "Mayday" situation as 2011 ended. Already the head coach at Cal-Berkeley, Teti was summoned by the national federation to rally its rowers. Brutally intense drills, a demanding training camp, and inspired leadership have done the trick. To Teti - but perhaps few others - the U.S. eight's win in its Olympic opener Saturday, putting it into Wednesday's final, was no surprise.
"They were good; they earned it," he said.
He also knows that his rowers "will have to reach a whole new level" to win medals.