Playing football in Georgia during the early days of August is no small feat. It’s hot, it’s humid, and there isn’t a game on Saturday to look forward to.
Since fall camp started on Aug. 2, temperatures have consistently been in the upper 80s to lower 90s. But somehow first-year defensive coordinator Dan Lanning has yet to tone down the excitement he brings to Woodruff Practice Fields.
“No matter how it looks outside, no matter how he feels, he’s going to bring that energy every day,” senior safety J.R. Reed said. “We could be down by 40, and he’d still bring energy.”
Lanning and head coach Kirby Smart might have something in common, Reed attested.
“I don’t know how [Lanning] keeps his voice,” Reed said. “He almost has that recipe Coach Smart has where their voice never goes out.”
Junior outside linebacker Walter Grant said Lanning hasn't changed much since being his position coach last season. Grant and Reed said Lanning hasn't implemented any new drills this fall.
“He’s the same guy every day,” Grant said. “He’s been like that.”
Before he joined the Bulldogs’ coaching staff, Lanning was the inside linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator at Memphis for two seasons. That stint came after gaining some experience as a graduate assistant coach at Alabama, which followed various jobs at Pittsburgh, Arizona State and Sam Houston State.
While Smart named James Coley as Georgia's new offensive coordinator only three days after Jim Chaney’s departure for Tennessee, it took him more than two months to officially promote Lanning after Mel Tucker left Georgia to become the head coach at Colorado.
Lanning did serve as the de facto head defensive coordinator during Georgia’s loss to Texas in the Sugar Bowl.
This season, Lanning will be assisted by co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann.
“It was a team effort [at the Sugar Bowl] and it’s a team effort now,” Lanning said on Aug. 5. “My job is to make coach Smart’s job easier. I don’t do that alone, I do that with every one of the coaches we have on defense... It’s going to be a collective unit from today all the way to the end of the season.”
One thing the coaching staff has emphasized to players and media is the havoc rate on defense. According to Reed, the Bulldogs have done an admirable job of following orders.
“The havoc rate is out the roof right now,” Reed said. “The interceptions in the last scrimmage, the turnovers in the last scrimmage, we’ve never had in two years.”
Other than the havoc rate, Lanning preaches the importance of pursuing the ball carrier, regardless of the distance between him and the defender.
“[If] one guy misses a tackle but there’s people right there to clean them up, it knocks away that mistake,” Reed said.
As Georgia gears up for its first game against Vanderbilt on Aug. 31, it can always count on one thing: Lanning’s exuberance.
“Coach Lanning is always up,” Grant said. “He’s ready to get after it every day. Whatever it is.”