Learning About Lanning: Georgia’s 2021 Secret to Success

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

This is another article in a series covering unique aspects Coach Dan Lanning will unfold at Oregon, and each article has had separate interesting subjects. We will cover some interesting mind-sets that Coach Lanning has acquired from Kirby Smart (and indirectly from Nick Saban), and we will look at what many analysts now believe is “the” secret to Georgia’s success in winning the 2021 National Championship.

Normally at this time in the off-season, I like to spend some time over at PlayAmo casino live, but the feedback from so many Georgia fans concerning the “Bulldog Culture” was fascinating, and compelled me to learn more.

Mantras of Champions

I expect we will see parts of the new Oregon culture developed as Coach Lanning would like, but so much will come from Kirby Smart, and which in turn came from Nick Saban. These exemplary Bulldog fans I’ve conversed with passed along many of their slogans or mantras heard often in the media from Bulldog players. In the first spring practice, we heard that Coach Lanning emphasized learning something from every practice. It is a mind-set he is beginning to convey to the players to compete against themselves in striving to reach their own upside and potential.

Nick Saban is often seen unhappy on the sidelines–even when he is winning a game easily. When asked about the sour face, Saban told ESPN“I know I get criticized for that. Everybody says, ‘He just won 31-3. What’s he complaining about?’ But it goes back to the inner scoreboard versus the outer scoreboard. Which one is more important? If you’re going to accomplish your goals, it’s always the inner scoreboard.”

So very true!

Tony Walsh, Courtesy of UGA Sports Comm.

It was not just the talent that made Georgia No. 1.

More Bulldog Mantras Provided by Georgia Fans…

“We aren’t practicing to beat SOMEBODY, we’re practicing to beat EVERYBODY!!” This exhortation from Kirby Smart is a variation on what Chip Kelly called “the faceless opponent,” and how you needed to become your best through diligent and deliberate practice.

“Keep Chopping” – while this is a reference to chopping wood–you will see Georgia players do hand signals for it a lot. Essentially it means keep working. Keep getting better.

“You’re either ELITE or You’re NOT” – This came from Kirby Smart last year as a means of challenging players to rise above their own expectations. It also became a challenge to the fan base to show up for a noon kickoff against a lesser team. Needless to say Bulldog fans rose to the occasion!

“Pressure is a Privilege” – we expect to be a top flight program. We expect to challenge for titles, and with that comes the pressure to perform. We embrace that pressure, and we don’t let it impact our performance.

Jeff Sentel of DawgNation

Kirby Smart and Dan Lanning took a risk trying something very new…

Georgia’s Secret That Made THE Difference to Win a ‘Natty

HC Kirby Smart of Georgia was frustrated after the 2020 season. He knew he had a great team returning, but he needed that one last item to help his team get-over-the-hump to win a national championship. He spoke of it in an Entrepreneur article as, “I wanted to try something new to get better, that was going to take everyone buying in.”

Effectively the winning difference for Georgia this last season was something you have already heard Coach Dan Lanning refer to in his opening press conference, and from interviews since then, and it is connection. To build connections within the team, Coach Smart had “Skull Sessions” where the team broke into smaller groups of players who would meet three times a week and discuss their background, their lives and their varied interests. The coaches would move among the groups as players would open up and learn more about each other.

Star Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean explained that, “Skull Sessions is for guys to be more connected. Lots of people open up…knowing the other person’s why.” NC winning quarterback Stetson Bennett offered that these meetings, “allow the team to see you more as a person not just a football player.”

Did the Skull Sessions really work? Georgia defensive back Lewis Cine said “It’s definitely working, because I know what pushes [my teammates], and they know what pushes me. Let me give you my all.”

So despite all the amazing talent among players and coaches, the last component that gave Georgia the edge was the connection among each other. Want to get closer to your team goals? The key is to work to become closer, more connected to your teammates.

Tom Corno

Can Noah Sewell and the Oregon defense be open to building the connections required to win championships?

Coach Smart knew that with all the time demands on his players, these meetings could not be stacked onto their current pile of commitments, but something had to be sacrificed instead. Kirby admitted that as difficult as it was–some of the “Scheme” meetings, (the Xs and Os) were cut out to make time for the Skull Sessions. Was it worth it? Coach Smart asserted that the “return on investment showed up almost immediately on film, with the camaraderie and bonding between this squad.” 

We have heard Coach Lanning speak of “building connections, relationships and bonds” already, and frankly what he said at times did not fit the moment or the topic he had been elaborating upon. Now it makes sense from his perspective of how he is going to integrate this into everything he is doing, and perhaps even when recruits come to visit? Learning this makes watching the team progression that much more interesting as….

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from Jeff Sentell of DawgNation

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