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Ledbetter believes Lanning will have defense bring more heat

Ledbetter believes new DC Dan Lanning will bring more heat.
Ledbetter believes new DC Dan Lanning will bring more heat. (Radi Nabulsi)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Now that Dan Lanning is officially Georgia’s new defensive coordinator, the question many Bulldog fans have asked was posed to former defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter Saturday at the NFL Combine.

Will Georgia do a better job of disrupting the quarterback after finishing last year with 24 sacks, a number that ranked next to last in the SEC?

Under Lanning, Ledbetter believes the Bulldogs will. How come?

“I think it’s personnel and personality. I think they (coaches) are starting to realize that the game is changing, it’s changing every year,” Ledbetter said. “Kirby wants results, he wants sacks, he wants fast linebackers who can run past guys … quickness, speed … you’ve got to use the weapons you have. You’ve got to use your weapons to the best of your abilities and I think he realizes that.”

Ledbetter said Lanning’s personality – along with inside linebacker coach and Co-defensive coordinator Glenn Schumann fits that aggressive mold.

“(Lanning) is a workhorse. You’ve got guys like Glenn Schumann and (Lanning) who operate basically the same way – it’s like they have their hair on fire,” Ledbetter said. “They always want more. They always want something better.”

Although they got along and worked well together, Ledbetter seemed to hint that Smart and former defensive coordinator Mel Tucker didn’t always see eye to eye when it came to the amount of pressures that initially was being dialed up.

“We had a defensive oriented coach, he likes things a certain way and Coach Tucker knew that,” Ledbetter said. “There were times … they didn’t necessarily butt heads … but they had to come to an agreeance on what to run and what was best for the team we were playing against. They did, they meshed it out together. Coach Tucker is my guy and I wish him all the best.”

Although Ledbetter didn’t put a number on the amount of sacks, he didn’t hesitate when asked what he believes Lanning will bring.

“A lot of pressure. I think Georgia’s going to continue not necessarily take risks, but they will get after it," Ledbetter said. "We always got after it, but you know, we didn’t generate a lot of sacks like we wanted to, so I think that’s something he’s (Lanning) working on with just the scheme and how the defense is doing it the way Kirby wants it to look because at the end of the year Kirby said, ‘I want sacks, now go do what y’all do.’”

The Bulldogs did do a better job the latter part of the year. Ten of the team’s 24 sacks came during the final four regular season games.

“He (Smart) said I know you can stop the run, but I want you to pressure the quarterback,” Ledbetter said. “People started figuring out our run game defense and they started running RPOs on us a lot. In order to stop that, you’ve got to pressure the quarterback, bat balls, sacks, pressures … He didn’t say sacks, but he did saw we needed to start affecting the quarterback, whether that’s pressuring, batting balls back … just disrupt the quarterback.”

Ledbetter believes the Bulldogs have the defensive talent to do exactly that.

“I’m expecting big things from our outside linebacker group,” Ledbetter said. “There’s a lot of talented guys and definitely on the D-line, too. They’re athletic, and they can move.”