Oregon hires Dan Lanning: Ducks embrace defensive mindset in tapping Georgia assistant as next coach

Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning has been hired as the next coach at Oregon, the university announced Saturday night. Lanning, who joined the Bulldogs program in 2018 as a linebackers coach, has served as defensive coordinator since the 2019 season. Lanning will fill the vacancy created by Mario Cristobal who was recently appointed as a coach at his alma mater Miami.

“Dan is an outstanding, high-energy soccer coach who will bring a world-class experience to our soccer student-athletes,” Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens said in a statement. “He is a great recruiter and developer of talent, and we will continue to compete for championships while providing an environment where our soccer student-athletes can develop their full potential in the classroom, on the soccer field, and as individuals. Grateful for the opportunity to have to Dan as the leader of our soccer program, and we look forward to the positive impact he will have on our student-athletes. “

While Lanning will remain with Georgia for his college football playoff career, his defensive coordinator title will be shared by Glenn Schumann and Will Muschamp for the postseason, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart announced Saturday.

Lanning, 35, emerged as a noteworthy name on the head coaching circuit after serving as the architect behind a strong Georgia defense that leads the nation in multiple categories this season, including defensive yards per play (4.01 ) and scoring defense (9.5 points per game). Lanning’s unit has been the driving force behind Georgia’s push to the SEC East title, an undefeated regular season and a place in the College Football Playoff as the third seed.

Lanning previously served as an assistant coach in multiple high-profile programs, including Alabama and Arizona State.

The move is somewhat surprising considering the Ducks expressed high-level interest in Cal’s coach, Justin Wilcox, and even met with former UCLA coach and current coach, Chip Kelly. But the show seems to have found its man in the defensive-oriented Lanning.

So what are the biggest takeaways from the Ducks’ decision to sign Lanning? Let’s take a look.

A defensive mindset

Oregon burst onto the national scene in the late 2000s with a wildly successful spreading offensive that relied heavily on tempo. Sadly, inattention to defense played a major role in the Ducks missing national titles in 2010 and 2014. Cristóbal’s defenses at Eugene weren’t exactly stellar, but an increased focus on scrimmage has created depth at all areas. which has made them a more complete team.

Lanning’s defense in Georgia is one of the best of a generation, despite the SEC Championship Game loss to Alabama. Can you replicate that in Oregon? That’s asking a lot, at least early. But the DNA created by Cristóbal lends itself to even greater success on the defensive side of the ball thanks to Lanning’s track record. That’s probably why Lanning won the gig instead of Kelly. Oregon currently relies on the line of scrimmage, specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Kelly has changed her style a bit and is more old school than she was in Oregon during her previous tenure. But Lanning’s mindset is to punch his opponent in the teeth and then kick those teeth after he finishes.

All about recruiting

Lanning is widely known as a tireless recruiter with connections across the country. He is credited with being the top recruiter for Georgia star linebacker and former No. 1 overall prospect Nakobe Dean, Nolan Smith and five-star quarterback Brock Vandagriff.

Cristóbal made a living attracting high-level talent to Eugene, including current defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux, the No. 2 overall prospect in the Class of 2019 and future first-round draft pick. The Ducks have finished with the top drafting class in the Pac-12 for three consecutive seasons, which is a big reason they have found themselves hunting for the college football playoffs in November on multiple occasions.

Lanning is also well versed in the recruiting structure that Nick Saban and Kirby Smart have developed, which will translate into successful recruiting on the West Coast.

What about Georgia now?

The Bulldogs are heading to the CFP, and all eyes are on Kirby Smart as he has to go through a difficult training situation with one of the most important trainers on staff. Fortunately for Smart, he knows exactly how to deal with it. In fact, he was in Lanning’s place when he caught Saban in Alabama in the 2015 title race.

Muschamp replaced Scott Cochran as special teams coach when Cochran took a leave of absence, and giving him an additional role as a co-defensive coordinator comes naturally. Say what you want about Muschamp as head coach, but he has been a phenomenal coordinator throughout his career. Schumann, the current defensive co-coordinator and inside linebacker coach, is highly regarded within the program and considered a likely candidate to follow in Lanning’s footsteps as a rising star in the training industry.

Smart can handle this because they have experienced it and have helpful options on staff.

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