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NASHVILLE — Georgia football enters the 2023 season as back-to-back College Football Playoff national champions. Winning it all has become the standard in Athens and the Bulldogs have a target on their backs, again.
Kirby Smart understands that. He knows that every team on Georgia’s schedule has their game circled. He understands how the media paints his program as the favorite repeat for a third-straight year.
There is an expectation to be the best. However, at the same time, the Bulldogs are already the best. The players know that. Recruits know that.
That poses a unique challenge for Smart and his staff and it comes down to complacency. Rather, avoiding complacency.
Georgia football cannot be complacent.
Smart spoke about that emphasis during SEC Media Days on Tuesday. It is something that he and his team have focused on throughout the last seven months and will continue to do so throughout training camp and into the regular season.
“The threat for us is complacency.” — Kirby Smart— Grayson Weir (@GsonJW) July 18, 2023
In an effort to avoid the smug attitude that comes with self-satisfaction, the Bulldogs spent the offseason learning from one of the greatest athletic programs of all-time. Georgia’s entire team, including players, studied the All Blacks.
New Zealand’s national rugby team is the best in the world. It has won the Rugby Championship in 19 out of 27 years, earned World Rugby Team of the Year honors 10 times since the award was initiated in 2001, and have won 77.12% of 612 Tests since 1903.
The All Blacks are the most successful international men’s rugby side of all-time. Smart and his staff spent a large portion of the offseason looking at their success and what they do to maintain their status as the world’s greatest.
The Bulldogs want to be like the All Blacks.
We took a deep dive. We took six weeks. We took a title and a mantra from them and studied those things for six weeks because we don’t want complacency. They’ve done it better than anybody else, and we use that.
One of their big mantras is “better never rests.” We believe that.
Those are strong words now when you think about it. Think deep on it.
Better never rests.
Our kids understand it. Our kids have learned it. What drives us for this season is intrinsic motivation. We’re not going to be controlled by outside narratives and what people say and who’s going to be the quarterback.— Kirby Smart
Kamari Lassiter, who started all 15 games in the secondary last season, spoke about what he and his team took away from the deep dive.
should will begin its season 2-0 with wins over Tennessee-Martin and Ball State before hosting South Carolina in Athens on September 16. From there, only UAB and first-year head coach Trent Dilfer stand in the way of the SEC gauntlet.
If the Bulldogs do not enter its stretch against Auburn, Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Florida, Missouri, Ole Miss and Tennessee at 4-0, it would be a huge shock to the system. They hope to avoid that potential derailment by leaning into their offseason studies. Better never rests.