Dan Lanning wants to ‘finish the right way’ with Georgia football as he makes big moves at Oregon

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Fain and Billy Slaughter Defensive Coordinator and outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning during the Bulldogs’ practice session in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh)
Tony Walsh

Physically speaking, Dan Lanning could not be farther away from his next job this week. After the conclusion of the 2021 season, Lanning will leave Georgia to become the next head coach at Oregon.

But for now, he’s in Miami, prepping the Georgia defense as it readies to face Michigan in the College Football Playoff.

“We work until the work is done,” Lanning said at his press conference on Monday. “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 into what we’ve done here.”

Related: Dan Lanning explains why staying through the College Football Playoff is important to him

Oregon made two more coaching hires on Monday, picking Tosh Lupoi to be the defensive coordinator at Oregon and Adrian Klemm as the offensive line coach. Klemm has past experience at UCLA, SMU and most recently the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Lupoi worked on Alabama’s staff when Lanning was a graduate assistant. His stint as Alabama’s defensive coordinator didn’t go as planned but Lupoi is widely regarded as one of the top recruiters in the country. He is currently working as the defensive line coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

As for Lanning’s current responsibilities with Georgia, they haven’t changed all that much. Lanning revealed on Monday he will continue to call the defensive plays for Georgia, as well as work the sidelines during the game.

In the wake of Lanning’s departure, Kirby Smart announced that Glenn Schumann and Will Muschamp will serve as co-defensive coordinators. For the time being though, Lanning will still have hands on the wheel of the Georgia defense.

“It’s been a team effort all season,” Lanning said. “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.

Lanning did compliment both Muschamp and Schumann for the job they’ve done with Georgia, as he praised Schumann’s intelligence while noting Muschamp’s communication skills.

“Coach Muschamp has been invaluable to us just from an experience standpoint,” Lanning said. “I think he does a good job of communicating with our players. I know our guys really love being coached by Will.”

Related: What comes next for Georgia football at defensive coordinator, Dan Lanning’s plans for College Football Playoff

The Georgia defense will be a hungry group after getting humbled by Alabama in the SEC championship game. while the secondary had its struggles, Lanning was quick to point out the lack of a pass rush and the role it played. Georgia sacked Alabama’s Bryce Young zero times.

The members of the Georgia defense know that has to change if Lanning and this special group are going to get a sendoff befitting of what they accomplished during the regular season.

“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,” linebacker Nakobe Dean said. “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.

Lanning will be matching wits against Michigan’s Josh Gattis, who won the Broyles Award for the nation’s top assistant coach. The Wolverines also have the nation’s top offensive line, as it won the Joe Moore Award this year.

“There’s no way around it, this is a very, very talented Georgia defense,” Gattis said. “Dan Lanning has done a tremendous job leading this defense, creating its own identity, and I think he’s also put his own additional flavor to this defense. It’s not the same defense of during the Nick Saban days of Alabama or you’ve seen Coach Smart really evolve and grow this defense.”

The best-on-best matchup should go a long way in determining what kind of send-off Lanning gets and how soon he can fully focus on Oregon.

“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,” Lanning said.

Dan Lanning discusses Georgia football defense ahead of College Football Playoff

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