The winner of the Frank Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant coach could come down to what happens in the SEC Championship Game on Saturday.
Dan Lanning, Georgia's first-year defensive coach, made the cut Monday as one of five finalists for the award, which is presented to college football’s assistant coach of the year. LSU's first-year passing game coordinator Joe Brady was also named a finalist in addition to Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow, Ohio State co-defensive coordinator/secondary coach Jeff Hafley and Utah defensive coordinator/safeties coach Morgan Scalley.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart won the 2009 Broyles trophy and was a finalist in 2015 while at Alabama.
Lanning, who also coaches the Bulldogs' outside linebackers, oversees a Georgia defense that leads the SEC in points allowed (10.4 ppg, No. 2 nationally), rushing defense (71 ypg, No. 2) and total defense (257.0 ypg, No. 4). The Bulldogs have allowed just 125 points in 2019 and only one rushing touchdown.
Lanning, 33, succeeded Mel Tucker as Georgia's defensive coordinator after Tucker became Colorado's head coach. This is Lanning's first year as a coordinator and only his fifth overall as an on-field assistant coach.
Lanning shares coordinating duties with inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann but makes the defensive calls during games.
"I think our coaching staff, Lanning, Schumann, Charlton [Warren] and Tray Scott, have done a tremendous job,” Smart said before finalists were announced Monday. “Our players have done a tremendous job of working hard, buying in. ... This group plays really hard and well together. They're well coached and they're fundamentally sound.”
On Saturday, Georgia's defense will meet an LSU offense that leads the league in scoring (48.7 ppg), pass offense (390.0 ypg), and yards gained (560.4). Brady is given most credit for that. Though offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger calls plays for the Tigers, Brady is credited for bringing a passing scheme with him from the New Orleans Saints, where he was working as an offensive analyst. That has transformed quarterback Joe Burrows into the favorite to win this year's Heisman Trophy.
“This, obviously, will be the ultimate test,” Smart said. “It's best offensive unit we have played all the way around, really not even close.”
The Broyles Award winner will be announced at a banquet in Little Rock, Ark., on Dec. 10.