Dan Lanning, defensive players discuss 2021 Orange Bowl playoff game
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Dan Lanning, defensive players discuss 2021 Orange Bowl playoff game

Dan Lanning
Photo: Rob Davis/UGA

UGA football defensive coordinator Dan Lanning and five defensive players, Chris Smith, Lewis Cine, Jordan Davis, Quay Walker, and Nakobe Dean, spoke with the media on Monday about the Bulldogs’ upcoming game against Michigan in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Orange Bowl.

The third-ranked Georgia Bulldogs will face the second-ranked Michigan Wolverines at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021. The game will be televised by ESPN at 7:30pm ET.

Chris Fowler will call the play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit will provide analysis, while Holly Rowe and Marty Smith will report from the sidelines.

Below is a transcript of the comments on the Michigan game, which was provided by ASAP Sports.


Opening statement…

Good morning, everybody. First off, we’d like to thank the Orange Bowl. This has been a fantastic experience for our team and our staff. I think it’s been since 1960 since the University of Georgia was here at the Orange Bowl. For me, this is my first time professionally, I know for several of our coaches and staff and players. Coming here is a unique experience. We got in last night, or I guess yesterday afternoon, were able to get settled, and so far everything has been absolutely first class.

I’m really proud of the work our team has done to get here, proud of their preparation here once the season wrapped up and going into the holidays. Our guys are eager and hungry to get back out there on the field together, and certainly excited to see the product that we’re able to put on the field here when we hit the field against Michigan.

That being said, we can go ahead and get opened up.

Q. Wanted to ask you about the last game. I know you’ve been asked about that a lot. I guess what I’m wondering is when you have one bad game out of the season, how does that — what does that look like when you go back and start reviewing that compared to other games? Is it a back to the drawing board situation, is it just, oh, no, we only need to make a couple of tweaks? When you’re recovering from a game where a lot of things didn’t go right, what is it like for a coach to dig in on that compared to games where a lot of things went right?

DAN LANNING: Yeah, I think you have to approach it like any game that we have had this season where you go back and try to be analytical regardless of the result. We take a deep dive every single game when we’re successful, we take a deep dive when we’re not, and our approach didn’t change after this past game. I think you give a lot of credit where credit is due. They did a great job against us, and I think they’re left a little bit of hunger there for us to get an opportunity to go back out there and play again.

Q. Dan, is there a wounded pride factor to this, to the defense? Just digging down on this, do you have to address that first, or again, is it all technical?

DAN LANNING: Our guys are excited to compete. I mean, every time we take the field, I don’t think it matters if it’s practice and we’re doing team run against each other or if it’s game day. Our guys want to go out there and prove their worth. I think they’ve done that week in and week out this season, and the fact that we had a hiccup doesn’t affect what we want to do going forward. Luckily for us in that game every single one of our goals still stands in front of us, and this opportunity — there’s four teams in the nation that get to go play right now at this level, and I think we recognize that opportunity in front of us and want to go take advantage of it.

Q. Can you just describe what the last few weeks have been like trying to balance the new role and your responsibilities at Georgia and keeping a proper balance? I know you’ve hired a couple of assistant coaches. How much have you been able to get out to Eugene, if at all?

DAN LANNING: You know, I went out one time initially right after getting hired, and really excited about what we’re putting together there. My focus, the good thing, again, West Coast being three hours behind us has given us the opportunity to be able to really focus on Georgia early on during the day, and then later on at night, able to get a lot of things accomplished there with our team in Oregon and our staff as we’re piecing that together.

Q. Dan, we all know what’s going on in the world right now with the virus numbers, of course. We’re seeing some bowl games unable to go forward. You guys are here to be safe, but also it’s a bowl game; you want the kids to have an experience. How important is that balance, that you have the beach outing and team dinners and stuff like that? How important is that even at a time like this to give the kids that bowl experience?

DAN LANNING: You know, ultimately I think every one of our kids if you asked them would tell you that we came here for one purpose, but I’ll say this. I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect for our medical staff. Ron Courson and his staff and the precautions they’ve taken to prepare our kids. I also give our players a lot of credit for how diligent they’ve been on taking proper precautions, whether it be wearing the masks through the hotel or when they’re out and about. But we came here to win a football game, and we’re excited about everything that the Orange Bowl does for our players, but there’s no secret what we came here for.

Q. Dan, when you look at Michigan and their offensive line and what they do with their running backs, what type of challenge do they present that might be a little bit different than what you’ve seen this season?

DAN LANNING: Yeah, Michigan plays football. You’ve got to give Coach Harbaugh and Coach Gattis credit, with the way they have running backs that can run the ball. They use tight ends like a lot of people don’t use tight ends today, in some ways similar to what our offense does. They run hard mouth, smashmouth football plays. They demand some physicality up front, which I know we’re excited to see, and then they have the ability to attack you downfield. I just think they show tremendous balance in the way they prepare, in the way they play the game, and it’s going to be a physical football game, which I know we certainly appreciate.

Q. Cade McNamara has a very interesting throwing motion for a quarterback, sort of that side arm, almost like a shot put type of delivery. Have you seen that before with a quarterback and does that present a different challenge for your guys who are trying to disrupt passing lanes and stuff like that?

DAN LANNING: For us schematically I don’t think we change a lot of how we attack that, but I do think he has an extremely quick release. That shows up on film. He’s very accurate with the way he delivers the ball and the fact that he can release it from different passing angles is unique. Always for us there’s going to be an emphasis in trying to affect the passer and what that looks like can be different based on each game, but for him that’s no different for us. We want to be able to get our hands up, get in passing lanes. We want to be able to close to him and create some tough throws and we want to make sure he has to throw into tight windows. But he’s shown that he can do that.

He is going to give us an opportunity. We have to go out there and play our best to be able to stop that.

Q. Two-part question here. One, Michigan does profile as a power team and yet they have all these explosive plays over 50, 60 and 70 yards. Can you explain that paradox? And two, what was it like when Will slid into the secondary and what was it like working with Coach Muschamp back there on defense?

DAN LANNING: Yeah, absolutely. First starting off with the explosive plays, I think what you’ll see is they’re very creative on offense with what they do and they do a great job attacking poor eye discipline. There’s multiple plays they use to set up the next play whether it be play-action runs to set up play-action shots downfield, whether it be their misdirection game with reverses, flea flickers. They do a great job utilizing trick plays to get the ball down, extend it down the field as well as those shots.

To answer the second part of your question, Coach Muschamp has been invaluable to us just from an experience standpoint. I think he does a good job of communicating with our players. I know our guys really love being coached by Will. I certainly love having him in the room. He’s been a good guy for me to be able to lean on and our coaching staff to be able to lean on with his experience, and just with his demeanor and his approach every day, the way he comes to work. It’s been fun to be around.

Q. Probably the craziest thing about that SEC championship game when I look at it is zero sacks. That was certainly not you guys’ MO at all this year. Was that a product of scheme do you think, or was that more of just what Alabama was able to do on the offensive line, and how different is it going to be, is that necessary when playing somebody like Michigan?

DAN LANNING: Yeah, I mean, always you want to be able to affect the passer, like I said before. I think it’s a combination. They did a great job doing some things different schematically and then obviously they have a quarterback back there that’s elusive and able to run, created some opportunities that made it hard for us to get him down.

Several close calls that we weren’t able to finish on, so certainly been a point of emphasis for us moving forward and something we want to be able to take advantage of in this game. They’re a good offensive line. They do a good job protecting the quarterback, so we have to try to find unique ways to create that pass rush.

Q. In terms of the defense for this game, what is different about the operation of the coaching staff wise, given that your plate has been full, and in the lead-up to the game, the game planning and who will call the plays Friday night?

DAN LANNING: Yeah, our approach will be very similar to what it’s been all season. Nothing is really going to change from the way we operate. Luckily with bowl prep there is a lot more time. There is a lot of time to be able to get ready, and I think a lot of times people make the mistake of trying to do too much in a shortened window.

We’ll operate very similar to the way we’ve operated all season, I’ll still be making the calls, but every single one of our defensive coaches have been extremely involved throughout the week, throughout our preparation, and this has been a team effort. It’s been a team effort all season. That doesn’t change for just this one game, whether it be Coach Smart’s involvement, Coach Schumann, Coach Scott, Coach Addae, Coach Muschamp, there’s a lot of hats and there’s a brain trust that kind of goes into how we operate, and our players are involved in that. So everything is going to be operating like it has all season.

Q. What has Hassan Haskins done to get cooking lately, seven touchdowns his final two games, and have you broken down a meeting by saying Go Ducks instead of Go Dawgs?

DAN LANNING: No meetings here have been broken down like that, no. Great question. Hassan and really their whole backfield, those guys are extremely physical. They run tough. I know for us personally we’ve shown a lot of film of these guys breaking tackles, and the way they run, they run hard. Very rarely are they running to avoid contact. They’re running to create contact. I think that shows up in the way that they play week in and week out, but they have a real disciplined approach. They’re going to make sure they emphasize running the ball, and that’s shown up a lot with Hassan and all their running backs.

Q. You mentioned how they attack eye discipline. How would you say that your guys’ eye discipline has been, and how do you coach that?

DAN LANNING: I think you just have to re-create as much of that as possible within practice and walk throughs and film study. Our players take a tremendous amount of pride in doing their jobs and doing it correctly, but you have to recreate some of those tough moments, some of those conflict plays within practice, and you have to work setup plays in practice to set up a tougher play throughout the game.

I would say at the end of the day our guys have been really solid all season from an eye discipline standpoint. Certainly there’s some moments we feel like we could be a lot better, but we challenge ourselves to try to make practice harder than the game, and we’ve been able to do that for the most part this season.

Q. Wanted to ask you about Glenn Schumann and how he has grown as a coach over your time together at Georgia, especially with him already having the co-defensive coordinator role?

DAN LANNING: Yeah, Glenn is a phenomenal coach. He’s also a great friend. He cares about his players tremendously. They have a huge amount of respect for Glenn and the way he works day in and day out. He’s a diligent worker. He’s extremely smart. He’s somebody that I’ve leaned on my entire time here at Georgia just because I have a lot of respect for how Glenn handles himself. He’s obviously extremely intelligent and does a great job of helping us game plan and create opportunities for our players.

He’s grown every single year as a coach. I think that’s one of the things that’s unique about this environment is coaches have developed this setup here where people can grow. We’re lifelong learners in this group, and Glenn is certainly an example of that.

Q. I’ll ask you about Chris Smith just real quick. I know he was banged up from the SEC championship game. How much has the three weeks off allowed him to maybe get back to his old self, and the star position, is this a game where maybe Latavious Brini is brought back to fold? It seems like this more suits his style of play?

DAN LANNING: Yeah, I think the time off in general for all of our players, including Chris, has been very beneficial from a recovery standpoint. Our guys have been really working hard in the training room to accelerate some of that recovery, and I know going into this game that both Poole and Brini both are attacking this thing ready to go play and go get to work, so excited to see what both those guys are able to do.

Q. You mentioned the time difference in the West Coast; how late are you working if you’re keeping the Oregon work to the second half of the day?

DAN LANNING: You know, I don’t clock in and clock out. We work until the work is done. Sometimes that’s later than other nights. We’ve had a couple late nights, but no lack of energy or ability to roll here. I’m excited about the opportunity obviously out there, tremendous opportunity, but our players and coaches here have done a great job of affording me that opportunity, so I’m not going to do a disservice to our guys by not finishing this the right way and the effort that I’ve put in to what we’ve done here.


Q. I wanted to ask you, how is your knee doing, and obviously in that Alabama game and in the time since then, how has that impacted your ability to play and play at both the safety position and the star position?

CHRIS SMITH: My knee is doing pretty well. I’ve been working with the training staff a lot to be able to get back going on the field and stuff like that. I definitely had a great opportunity to be able to play in the last game, and I’m doing everything I can to play in this game. The training staff is working with me so much, and I appreciate them for that. I’m putting in a lot of work to be able to get my knee back right, and everything is going to be good.

Q. What percentage do you feel your knee is right now? I know you played a little bit of star late in the season; do you anticipate going back to that position for this particular ballgame?

CHRIS SMITH: I don’t really want to disclose that information about the percentage of my knee or anything, but I’m doing everything I can to be able to play, and I’ll go out there and fight for my brothers.

Q. I’m wondering with Coach Lanning heading out, Coach Schumann and Coach Muschamp being co-defensive coordinators, has the dynamic changed from day-to-day at all? Can you just describe if it’s different or is it absolutely the same, you wouldn’t know anything was different?

CHRIS SMITH: No, sir, it’s absolutely the same. We’ve still been running things how we’ve been running it all season. Obviously Coach Lanning hasn’t gone on to his new job yet. He’s still with us. Like he said earlier, he’s going to play out his role with us the best he can, to the best of his ability. He’s been doing a great job of that all year and he’s continuing to do so until this thing is over.

Q. We just heard from Nakobe, you guys got to go out on a boat a little bit yesterday, but you look around the NBA, the NFL, this thing is hitting teams. Does Coach Smart say something to you guys? Does Dr. Courson say something to you guys and what do they say about being safe? Is it just stay in your room, wash your hands a million times? What’s the message?

CHRIS SMITH: It’s really the same thing that they’ve been reiterating to us all year, just being safe, wearing masks. COVID is definitely going back up right now and it’s getting crazy, so they just stress to us to be safe and make good decisions. COVID is pretty much everywhere right now, so you can’t really dodge it or anything like that, but the things we can do as players, coaches, as a whole team is just try to be safe because it’s getting really crazy out here. They’re just reiterating the fact that you need to be safe, wear a mask, wash your hands, stuff like that, to make sure we don’t have a breakout or anything like that.

Q. When you guys have 25 days in between games, does the competitiveness in practice change at all? Is there like increased — does it increase? Does it decrease?

CHRIS SMITH: It stays the same. We always have a competitive environment in our practices and stuff like that, and that’s another thing our coaches do a good job of and even the players on our team is keeping up the competitive balance within our team. We always want to go out there and compete and get better every single day, because there’s always stuff that we can improve on, and we want to be perfect, but you’re never going to be perfect. There’s a lot of things we can improve on each and every day, and when we go out there and compete, we’re just working to get better.

Q. I wonder if you could explain why the Alabama result did or didn’t put doubt in your minds about how good this defense is.

CHRIS SMITH: Well, it definitely didn’t put doubt in my mind about our defense. We go in and we put work in every week for our opponent and things like that. Obviously things didn’t go how we wanted them to go that day, but we’re focused on a new opponent. We’re focused on Michigan, and we’re focused on being able to get a win so we can move on to the next level of our season.


Q. Hate to ask, but this is a common question I get from people. Do you all only get tested for COVID if you’re symptomatic or unvaccinated, or is there like still surveillance testing going on for you like last year?

LEWIS CINE: Honestly I don’t know what they do. A larger percentage of the team — well, probably 98 or 99 percent of the team is vaccinated. Other than that, that’s the only thing I can say because I don’t know the rest of what’s going on other than that.

Q. I asked Coach Lanning earlier about Michigan being a power football team, yet they have all these explosive plays. I know you’ve studied this team deeply. How do you explain that paradox? How is a power team also so explosive?

LEWIS CINE: For one it’s definitely the players, the players they have. A team wouldn’t be what they are without good players. They have some really good, explosive players from offense, running backs, slot receivers, tight ends, even their quarterbacks. The players make the majority of who they are, and then good coaching with their head coach, receiving coordinators coaching, a lot of those guys I’m familiar with. So it all comes to those two factors really.

Q. Specific to the secondary, what did you guys need to fix after the last game?

LEWIS CINE: Specifically to our secondary, well, I’d say that not a lot had to be changed in terms of what we know. It’s just we just went back to our fundamentals really, used this stretch of getting ready for Michigan to also work on ourselves. So we did that, worked on the fundamentals. Basically the things that people don’t seem to focus on when they get to these points and these games, so that’s basically what we did.

Q. Cade McNamara has a really funky sidearm delivery. As a DB does that impact how you are tracking the ball or does it make it tougher to see it come out of his hand and that kind of stuff? Is there any impact in the way he delivers the ball compared to the more normal drop-back overhand style?

LEWIS CINE: No. I mean, the ball has to get in the air one way or another. Regardless of how he throws and which way he throws it’s still going to be in the air, so that doesn’t really affect me.

Q. Two-part question. One, you mentioned the fundamentals there. What are the fundamentals that y’all have been working on in practice over the past couple weeks? And two, a couple weeks ago you mentioned you did some things you hadn’t done all year against Alabama. Has there been an emphasis on doing what you’ve done all year to get you to this point?

LEWIS CINE: Well, basically the fundamental stuff is tracking the ball at the highest point, tackling, because in bowl games there’s a lot of missed tackles, making sure we communicate from D-linemen to linebackers to the four corners of the DBs, from corner to safety. Other than that, it’s just those little things that make a big difference when it comes to the games. A lot of people might not think so, but we think so, and that’s why we’re really focused on that.

Secondly, we kind of — I can’t really say. I can’t really say that, because most likely other teams are watching these interviews, also. Wait until the game and you’ll see, and that’s the most I can say.


Q. Coach Lanning was talking about their backs running to contact, the physicality of the game. Is there anybody on your schedule? I know football is a physical game by nature. Anybody you’d compare the Michigan offense to, and what about the physical challenge? Does this play into Georgia’s hands somewhat?

JORDAN DAVIS: They’re definitely a physical team, and it’s a tremendous challenge for our front seven. In comparison, I can’t really compare them. Each team is different. But we’re excited to play them. We’re excited for the challenge. We’re just ready to get out there.

Q. I know he’s not your position coach, but what has been your impression of Glenn Schumann and what he brings to this team and to this defense?

JORDAN DAVIS: Coach Schumann is a tremendous coach. He’s very smart in the football world, highly respected, and every time I’m around him I learn something new, even if that’s dealing with coverage that I have nothing to do with or it’s like reading how the linebackers operate and why we need to be in our gaps when they shoot. But honestly, Coach Schu is a great coach, and that’s what impresses me the most is how much I learn when I’m around him.

Q. Jordan, if I was to say to you that Alabama put forth a blueprint to help you beat Georgia, do you think that there’s a code that they may have cracked here, or that what Alabama did could be replicated in some ways? I think that’s a theme that’s out there. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily true, but I wonder what you think of that.

JORDAN DAVIS: In my opinion, I haven’t heard of that. It’s the first time I’m hearing about that. But you know, you lose some, and you just go on getting better. Obviously we’re not going to be the same team from last game to this game with Michigan, but we just have to keep moving forward and worry about ourselves and just get ready for the game.

Q. Jordan, could you describe some of the chemistry and the time that goes into developing the twists and stunts that you guys run so well and just how long it takes to get comfortable as a unit with the motions of that type of thing?

JORDAN DAVIS: Yeah, definitely. It’s all about timing. It’s all about chemistry. Yeah, it takes timing from the D-line, takes timing from the OLBs, from the inside linebackers, everybody. If you’re misjudging time or shooting the gap too early, you could be in somebody else’s gap, and that’s not good. But it’s definitely a timing thing, as with any position in football. A split second can mean the world. Yeah, the timing.

Q. When was the last time that you thought about the Alabama game? How quickly did you put it behind you, or does it continue to just wind its way into your brain or your thought process every now and again?

JORDAN DAVIS: Definitely I feel like any game I lost, especially in college, even in high school, it still hits me every once in a while when I think about it really. You know, you’ve just got to keep moving forward. You can’t dwell on the past. Nothing you can do about it. You just have to continue to move on in the future, and that’s not just with football, that’s with life, so that’s one thing I learned over the years. You just have to keep moving forward.

Q. I know this is a business trip for you guys and there’s one big goal, but you think about bowl week and there’s also the fun stuff and the go-karts and the food contests, whatever. What do you think this week is going to be like, and what’s it like having gone through a year that was pretty normal, then all of a sudden COVID goes crazy, it’s going through the nab, NFL, and now things are going to be a little different? What’s it going to be like, and what are you thinking about?

JORDAN DAVIS: Definitely we’re excited to be in Miami and everything, but as we all know, it’s a hotspot for COVID. We just have to make sure that we protect ourselves and wear our masks and just enjoy the moment. Obviously bowl week is a great time for team chemistry and getting to another each other a little bit better than we already do, and we’re just excited to be here and have fun in Miami.


Q. I wanted to ask you, when you were being recruited, what impressed you about Glenn Schumann, and now that you’ve played under him for four years, how have you seen him grow as a coach?

QUAY WALKER: Just his knowledge for the game and everything like that. Me and Coach Schumann’s relationship pretty much started kind of late or however you want to put it throughout my recruitment. My main recruiter was Coach Kevin Sherrer. Ended up going to see and whatnot. It was him. But ever since me and Coach Schumann started, things have just been real, real perfect from the get-go. Just anything that we talked about, everything that stood out that I wanted to stood out just stood out from him, mainly by him being so intelligent of the game and whatnot, things like that, just stood out with me, and that transferred over to today.

Q. Quay, Coach Lanning talked about eye discipline and how important that will be against Michigan, especially with how they pull and use tight ends. How have you guys been drilling that during bowl prep and staying on top of it?

QUAY WALKER: Just been working on it each and every day throughout practice and just making it one of our key focus points, however you want to put it. It’s just something that we really are looking forward to. Just pay close attention to even in walk-throughs we do the same thing as well. We’re pretty much tested throughout each and every day.

Q. Coach Lanning had mentioned that they’ve been showing you guys a lot of the running backs breaking tackles, and I’m wondering what the keys are going to be knowing how physical these guys are and how they enjoy the contact and are actually looking forward and not trying to avoid it.

QUAY WALKER: At the end of the day this is pretty much why you play football. That’s pretty much the name of the game, just run to hit, make sure we wrap up, drive our feet, as well. Pretty much game tackles, as well. Just swarm the ball and do what we do and that will take the place of everything, but back to what you said, they’re really good backs.

Q. Obviously the Alabama game has been a major talking point for a lot of media and fans. I’m just wondering from your perspective as you looked at that game and played in it, was there anything at any point when you thought, geez, maybe we’re not as good as we thought we were?

QUAY WALKER: No. At the end of the day it just came down to that day it just came down to the main team that played the best game. They played the best game. They were the better team that day. They executed very well and highly on both sides of the ball.

At the end of the day we pretty much didn’t do our job on defense. We didn’t get any turnovers, didn’t sack the quarterback. More than likely when that happens you’re not going to win the game. At the end of the day, no, we’ve just got to do what we’ve got to do, and that will take care of everything else.

Q. Quay, I wanted to take you back to when you committed to Georgia. There was a lot of guys from that 2018 signing class who are now key players on defense. When you guys were coming together, did you have a feeling that you had a special class coming together?

QUAY WALKER: Oh, no doubt about it. That was the main goal. Seeing the 2017 team and the things that they did, going to the Rose Bowl, winning, going to the gnat at this, as well, that was a thing that we wanted to do, as well, as recruits, so we pretty much had our minds made up. But we know it’s not easy getting here, just got to put in the workday in and day out, and things will happen for you.

Q. You mentioned the 2017 team. Kirby has obviously got this program back on this stage. What’s been his message do you guys about, I guess, now that the Alabama game is past you and you have two games if you can get by Michigan to get to your goal. What does he say about where you all are at and what you have ahead of you?

QUAY WALKER: Pretty much just continue being us and not let things ruin what we have going on, which is the Dawgs going to beat the Dawgs. We’ve just got to focus on three things. Focus on us, Michigan, as well, and things we can do to get better. Other than that, everything should play out how we want it to play out. But at the end of the day we’ve just got to go play football.


Q. Can you let me know what the last 15, 16 hours has been for you guys as you come here and it’s kind of a different bowl experience? I saw you guys wearing masks around the hotel. Are you able to enjoy anything around Miami?

NAKOBE DEAN: Yeah, so last 15, 16 hours has been basically we had practice yesterday. We had practice and we basically just traveled here, traveled, had basically a bowl activity. We ate on a boat, and we came back and we had a little free time.

Yeah, we’ve got masks on. We’re trying to stay away. We’re trying to stay safe from this new variant out here, so for the most part, we’re just staying around each other in the player lounge and just chilling on our free time.

Q. Did you notice any pickup in the intensity, energy, focus, whatever you want to call it, following the Alabama game compared to the way you were rolling during the regular season? Did you guys kind of need that hard reset and snap back to reality?

NAKOBE DEAN: You know, I did. I did, because kind of like when we started back practicing, it was kind of like a camp style of practice when we first started back, so it was kind of a new reset of energy and focus. But I won’t say that was a falloff even before we had played.

I feel like we’ve just got to continue to work, continue to do what we do.

Q. How much do you think you guys have to prove after the performance against Alabama, that you’re as good as people thought you were during the regular season? And what attributed to the blown coverages in the secondary that we didn’t see during the regular season?

NAKOBE DEAN: I feel like we’ve just got to work. We’ve just got to trust Coach’s game plan and we’ve got to execute. We’ve got to execute at a high level.

As far as contributing to the blown coverages, it was just we didn’t have elite focus and elite execution. We’ve got to execute our job, do our job every day, so it’s like for the blown coverages and everything, it’s like we just didn’t have elite focus and elite execution at play.

Q. What do you think has been the most effective thing you’ve done in the last couple weeks to get reset from the last game?

NAKOBE DEAN: Basically taking the opportunity that we got. I know for me it’s been telling the guys the type of opportunity that we’ve got. In the position that we’re in, there’s a lot of teams out there who are not in this position that we’re in and got the opportunity that we have to do what we do. Basically that’s kind of been the refocus and the mindset that we’ve got a huge opportunity to do something that’s never been done before in a long time.

Q. Coach Lanning got asked about it so I want to ask you about Coach Schumann. What is it like or what is he like as a leader of this defense and the inside backer room and how have you seen him grow as a coach?

NAKOBE DEAN: Yeah, he’s grown right along with me as a coach. I feel like he works as hard as — if not harder as we work on the field. He demands the best out of us. That was one of the reasons I came, because I knew he was going to push me to be great, not just be good, be average, be mediocre. He was going to push me to be great day in and day out. That’s one of the big reasons that I really respect him, and I’m grateful for him for that.

Q. Is there any kind of danger in trying to fix what went wrong in the last game when the next opponent plays a different style and has different strengths and weaknesses the way Michigan and Alabama kind of contrast with each other?

NAKOBE DEAN: Well, you know, we do what we always did. We went to the doctor, seen what hurt us, what we didn’t do, how we didn’t execute. We worked on that. But at the same time we’re on another opponent, so we’re on another opponent, so it’s a new game plan. Similar goal, to win, but new game plan, so we’ve just got to trust the plan and execute at a high level.


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