ATHENS — Kirby Smart is considered one of the top defensive minds in football, constantly studying trends and concepts at the NFL, collegiate and even high school levels.
It’s a safe bet the Georgia football head coach is considering new wrinkles this offseason — just like the rest of the coaches who attend and speak at the UGA Coaches Clinic March 26-28.
Smart has landed a star-studded guest speaker lineup consisting of new Mississippi State coach Mike Leach, Tennessee Titans’ coach Mike Vrabel and new New York Giants coach Joe Judge.
Middle school and high school coaches who want to attend the clinic can sign up through the school’s website.
Smart’s staff will be involved — coaches love to talk ball. But as much as anything, they will also be listening to one another.
Especially when it’s Leach’s turn to speak.
The Bulldogs are overhauling their offense. A dual-threat quarterback is set to be under center this season, with Wake Forest graduate transfer Jamie Newman the favorite entering spring drills.
Smart says he’s looking for the same things from his offense as before: efficiency, scoring and explosive plays.
But Georgia has not locked into how it will go about it, even after the hiring of former NFL offensive coordinator Todd Monken, whose 2018 Tampa Bay offense set franchise records.
Monken and Leach will be quite a meeting of the offensive minds.
Leach is known for building some of the nation’s most potent and prolific spread offenses, those of the “Air Raid” variety he helped develop with Hal Mumme at Valdosta State and Kentucky.
Washington State quarterback Anthony Gordon had the second-highest passing yards in the FBS ranks last season (5,579) and the fourth-highest completion percentage (71.6) operating out of Leach’s offense.
Vrabell, a former defensive coordinator with the Houston Texans, saw his team rank 12th in the NFL in total defense last season.
The Titans, however, were tied for 10th in the NFL with 23 takeaways — an area Smart has said UGA has room to improve.
Judge is the Giants’ new coach in New York after an eight-year stint on Coach Bill Belichick’s staff in New England.
Judge worked with the Patriots’ special teams throughout his tenure, adding the role of wide receivers coach last season.
New England’s special teams were among the best in the NFL throughout last season, per advanced metrics. They have traditionally been among the best in the NFL under Belichick, a characteristic Smart harps about wanting in his program.
Each member of the Georgia football coaching staff will also participate in “chalk talks” at the clinic.
Bulldogs’ defensive coordinator Dan Lanning is fast becoming one of the hottest coaching commodities. His future in Georgia figures to be shorter rather than longer with programs recognizing his talents and head coach potential.
Lanning’s defense was tops in the nation in scoring defense and rushing defense, while finishing third in total defense and eighth in pass efficiency defense.
This, despite not having any defensive players selected first-team All-SEC by an Associated Press panel.
Georgia had 37 players on defense get more than 100 snaps last season.