The Oregon fan base is excited about the arrival and results thus far of Head Coach Dan Lanning. Yet we know very little about him beyond the obvious résumé stuff we all read. What are his unique values and priorities in making a championship defense, that he is now embedding into the complete team at Oregon? Normally at this time of year I am checking Super Bowl odds by Fanduel for the upcoming big game, but I also needed to find out more about the culture Coach Lanning will build.
For answers, I went to the owner of a large Georgia website and asked the long-time Georgia fans (like what we have over on the OBD forum) what to look for from Coach Lanning this fall. This first article touches on two components that elevate the Bulldogs, and hopefully Our Beloved Ducks will benefit as well.
We have numerous examples of it from primarily receivers and defensive backs, but the one that sticks out in my mind was in the Ohio State game. The Buckeye receiver beat our corner, and hauled in a tough catch deep in our territory, but it was over the shoulder and ended up slightly out of bounds. So it was incomplete, but while jogging back the Oregon DB was barking and patting his chest at the OSU receiver when he had nothing to do with the incomplete pass. He had been burned…
That stuff makes me sick, but I do need to distinguish it from a celebration with teammates or even to the crowd. Thibs had an arms-out move in an upside down “U” after he made a sack, and that was not directed at the opposing players. How does Dan Lanning feel about it, because I noticed a pronounced absence in the Playoffs by Georgia of the hot-dogging I often was disgusted with at Oregon?
I had barely finished my Ohio State story above when the ‘Dawg fan cut in and told me that “that won’t last a week at Oregon,” and he was emphatic. He felt that Lanning learned from Georgia Head Coach Kirby Smart that “we talk with our helmets,” by following our assignments and winning instead of trash-talking opponents. That also transcends into the impact upon the team as it was pointed out to me that “Kirby doesn’t want our players taunting, showboating or focusing on individual awards.”
There was a recording from the locker room at halftime when Georgia had a good lead at Florida, and this shouting from Coach Smart exemplifies what Bulldogs fans wrote when he told the team (tame words substituted in):
“All that nonsense they’re talking, (to you) I love it! You don’t say nothing! You don’t say crap to them! You just laugh and point at the scoreboard! Don’t say anything to their undisciplined faces! Because we are….we are disciplined! And our cleats are going to kick the fricken undisciplined crap right out of them!”
My FishDuck Friends, I really like what I’m reading from our Georgia colleagues, as this is precisely what the Ducks need. Showboating comes under the category of “team discipline.” The quote below was also illuminating:
“One thing I noticed about both sides of the ball this year (most certainly the defensive side) is the lack of penalties, especially the 15-yard personal fouls that occur after a big play. This will fit nicely into y’all’s expectations you mention, as this is all coaching. It isn’t tolerated to get a stupid penalty of any kind at Georgia.”
The “De-Recruitment” Process
I was so impressed watching the Bulldog defense in the Playoffs. They played with discipline. All the defenders knew what they were doing, thus completing their assignments at full speed. But how do you get 5-Star prima donnas to give it their entire effort, and follow the team scheme without doing their own improvising? This could be a new issue at Oregon with the enhanced recruiting, as it appeared that the prior coaching staff did not always get the best efforts from the best athletes all the time.
How do the ‘Dawgs do it? They refer to it as the “De-Recruitment” process, and it begins as soon as the new freshman steps on campus. Over the past two years that each high school star had been recruited, they have been told how great they are, how they can make it to the NFL and how they can be an important part of the Bulldog defense. (As every team tells a prospective recruit.) But now the coaches begin to “de-recruit” them, or tell them that what they’ve done back in high school was amazing, but now in Athens their “stars” are now stripped away and they are a “zero-star.”
You can imagine how a 5-Star player assumes that a starting position is waiting for him, yet now he has to work his way up? Beat out former 3-Star players who are older and more experienced? It is a humbling process that has to be done very carefully as it can be hard to get players who have been entitled and pampered for their career to change their outlook. And apparently this is not unique to Georgia, but is something that is common in the SEC as it began a decade ago with Urban Meyer. (Yet as a college football junkie at Greybeard-age…I’ve never heard of it!)
QB Stetson Bennett recently stated in an interview that five-star recruits have every opportunity to fail before walk-ons (or in his case a 2-Star) have a chance to succeed, as he was fourth on the depth chart when 2021 fall camp began. Yet he beat out a former 5-Star in JT Daniels, as every Georgia player knows that high school “stars” don’t matter now and you have to follow the Bulldog process. Coach Kirby Smart himself was a walk-on to Georgia and became an All-SEC Safety, thus he can tell the young 5-Stars to walk the walk as he did.
To break down their beliefs about themselves and build them back as team players seems to be goal, but even Bulldog fans admit that it is hard to pull off in many cases. What made this year’s Georgia defense so unique is how all these players embraced each other, the team, and ignored the personal attention and hype. (And that is unusual these days!) When you have a burning desire to win along with that cohesiveness with so much high-echelon talent?
A special team emerges, one that some Bulldog fans admitted they have waited 30 years for. It is an amazing story made up of so many elements needed to create success, and while the Ducks are a long way off, the raw material of coaches and talent are present to begin a special journey. Coach Lanning knows how hard it is to achieve, but he has been there and done it in Athens, and witnessed the growth of the players and the team from this culture.
There is more to the “Culture Story” at Georgia that we will explore in my next article, but for now we can contemplate the upcoming new level of discipline and the “de-recruitment” process that will be introduced in the Hatfield-Dowling Complex later this winter as…
“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”
Charles Fischer (Mr. FishDuck)
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Charles Fischer has been an intense fan of the Ducks, a season ticket holder at Autzen Stadium for 35 years and has written reports on football boards for over 23 years. Known as “FishDuck” on those boards, he is acknowledged for providing intense detail in his scrimmage reports and in his Xs and Os play analyses. He and his wife Lois, have a daughter Christine, reside in Eugene Oregon, where he was a Financial Advisor for 36 years and now focuses full-time on Charitable Planned Giving Workshops for churches and non-profit organizations.
He does not profess to be a coach or analyst, but simply a “hack” that enjoys sharing what he has learned and invites others to correct or add to this body of Oregon Football! See More…
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