Videos by OutKick
In the week that followed the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, Dan Lanning was looking to fix the mistakes his Georgia defense had made against Alabama, while also quietly figuring out his next step in life. In the aftermath of Mario Cristobal leaving for Miami, the Oregon job came open, and they were looking at the Bulldogs defensive coordinator to lead the ship. Timing couldn’t have been crazier for the DC, but as he took the job in Eugene, he also knew there was a job to finish in Athens.
It’s never easy for a coach to move on, but this was an opportunity that Lanning could not pass up, to be a head coach. So, with the blessing of Oregon, Lanning would be doing double-duty for the next few weeks after taking the job out West. It hasn’t been too much of a distraction for the new Oregon head coach, as he spoke about on Tuesday.
“You know, I went out one time initially right after getting hired, and really excited about what we’re putting together there,” Lanning said. “My focus, 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.”
One of the biggest things Lanning had to figure out what why his defense struggled against Alabama, especially in the secondary and pass rush. But for Lanning, the approach to this semifinal game was not altered because of the loss to Alabama. If anything, it gave them a different kind of hunger, according to Lanning.
“Yeah, I think you have to approach it like any game that we have had this season where you go back and try to be analytical regardless of the result. We take a deep dive every single game when we’re successful, we take a deep dive when we’re not, and our approach didn’t change after this past game. I think you give a lot of credit where credit is due. They did a great job against us, and I think they’re left a little bit of hunger there for us to get an opportunity to go back out there and play again.”
The main difference in what folks will see out of this game is the fact Michigan will try to stick with the run as much as possible. Take for instance the Alabama matchup, in which Alabama was slinging the football around, with both defensive coordinators knowing it wouldn’t be a big rushing afternoon for either team. Lanning pointed out the way the Wolverines run the football and also the physicality they play with.
It will be interesting to see how Lanning dials up his defense against Michigan, knowing that they will look to pound the football as much as possible. It won’t look like the Alabama game, which is fine with Lanning. There’s a reason why the Georgia defense had played so well in the regular season, and shutting down the run was a priority. In the case of Michigan, the Bulldogs defense has been preparing for the run, compared to the downfield passing, which caught them in the SEC Championship. As for the offensive scheme he’ll be preparing for, he compared it to what they face everyday in practice.
“Yeah, Michigan plays football. You’ve got to give Coach (Jim) Harbaugh and Coach (Josh) Gattis credit, with the way they have running backs that can run the ball. They use tight ends like a lot of people don’t use tight ends today, in some ways similar to what our offense does. They run hard mouth, smashmouth football plays. They demand some physicality up front, which I know we’re excited to see, and then they have the ability to attack you downfield. I just think they show tremendous balance in the way they prepare, in the way they play the game, and it’s going to be a physical football game, which I know we certainly appreciate.”
This Michigan team, led by quarterback Cade McNamara, will try to catch you sleeping down the field at times, especially if they’ve found success running the football. But, the key to what Michigan does on offense is rely on the quick release of McNamara, which he has found success at, especially in the play-action. But, Lanning knows that this will present opportunities for the Georgia defense to get after him, as long as they can finish the play, something they struggled with against the Tide.
“He’s very accurate with the way he delivers the ball and the fact that he can release it from different passing angles is unique. Always for us there’s going to be an emphasis in trying to affect the passer and what that looks like can be different based on each game, but for him that’s no different for us. We want to be able to get our hands up, get in passing lanes. We want to be able to close to him and create some tough throws and we want to make sure he has to throw into tight windows. But he’s shown that he can do that.
“He is going to give us an opportunity,” Lanning added. “We have to go out there and play our best to be able to stop that.”
It’s really simple if you look at it on paper. Michigan has found success running the football down its opponent’s throat, just ask Ohio State. But, if we see the Georgia defense that looked unstoppable for 12 games in the regular season, then the Wolverines might have to let Cade McNamara sit in the pocket and throw the football. If the Bulldogs can have better success getting after the quarterback, then this game could play right into the hands of the dominating defense, led by Jordan Davis. If they don’t, then this could turn into another game where Dan Lanning’s secondary is scrambling to make up for it on the back end, which caused them problems in Atlanta.
Either way, this is the type of offensive scheme that Lanning’s defense could thrive against, as long as we see that raucous group that terrorized opponents for the entire regular season.
Before handing things off to Will Muschamp and Glenn Schumann, Lanning is looking to finish what he started. So for now, Georgia fans are hoping he will have to spend another two weeks balancing jobs.