Learning Lanning Laws: “Today We Create HAVOC”

Charles Fischer, Mr. FishDuck Editorials

While it was a fun beginning to learn how Dan Lanning plans to coach in my previous article, this next installment brings new football information for Oregon fans on the defensive side. If we want to understand how Coach Lanning will create a unique defense, then we first need to immerse ourselves in a stat called the “Havoc Rate,” as it was the primary focus of the exceptional Georgia defense.

Usually at this time in the offseason I like to do some gaming action at CasinoGap.org to replace some football, but I am quite fascinated with the new defensive concepts Coach Lanning is bringing to Our Beloved Ducks.

Look for an introduction to this Havoc Rate going into spring drills from the Lanning staff, but meanwhile, let’s learn from our Georgia friends of what it consists of. Havoc pertains to the defensive goal of creating disruptive plays, where the objective is to set the opposing offense back, instead of just merely stopping them. It is a percentage of defensive plays that are tackles for loss, pass breakups, interceptions and fumbles created off the opposing team’s offense.

A low Havoc Rate is below 10 percent of the total plays. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart set a goal of 20, or 20 percent of all plays being disruptive to the offense. There were games where the Bulldogs actually had nearly 25 percent of plays being defined as Havoc plays.

Georgia has its own Havoc Rate definition that includes un-recovered fumbles, sacks and other as-yet-unknown elements. (Quarterback hurries might be also in his formula.) A Georgia fan explained that “Kirby and staff also calculate things like QB pressures (getting the QB off his spot, making the play less likely to succeed). He might not get the sack by traditional havoc standards, but he counts it as a win/havoc.”

I assume we will learn from Coach Lanning in the next two months what his definition will be for the Oregon defense. This will create some interest in knowing what Oregon’s prior Havoc Rate was, and what our goal will be for the 2022 season.

Let’s learn more about the Havoc Rate statistic (above) from the originator of the concept, Bill Connelly of ESPN+. The Havoc Rate is part of the stats that Connelly’s SP+ bases defensive rankings upon. Take the time to learn this and then explain it to your Duck-Buddies as something to watch for from the Duck defensive staff over the spring and summer. Once we know the Lanning definition, then we as fans can begin computing them from game to game to compare.

It is an acknowledgment to the high-scoring offenses that are hard to slow down, thus winning can occur in a different defensive approach. Of course setting these goals are grand, but you also must have the personnel to carry out your defensive game-plan. An inexperienced secondary may require less “man” coverage, thus fewer blitzes and havoc-creating opportunities for example. The Ducks return a ton of experience in the front seven and the secondary, as freshmen played extensively due to all the injuries in 2021.

A Bulldog fan delved into the Kirby Smart variations of the Georgia formula for their Havoc Rate:“Havoc can mean that making the play sometimes means you aren’t making the play. We have some guys that don’t rack up sacks, but destroy what the offense was trying to do. Was it a screen pass that a D-lineman blew up so the opposing quarterback had to scramble and someone else gets a tackle? Look for the game changing plays where the opposing offense is forced to improvise, usually for a loss.”

Good gosh this short video above is exciting, and comes directly from Coach Lanning!

We have wanted to learn some of the core principles that make this Bulldog defense unique, and I am not sure how much more central to Lanning defensive DNA we can get than his belief in Havoc Rate, and his commitment to creating disruption to an opposing offense. The short video above helps us understand his dedication to these principles.

The Oregon players are probably hearing about this for the first time during winter workouts, but it will become an ingrained part of the new defensive culture at Oregon. As former Georgia safety J.R. Reed disclosed about their defensive meetings, “We keep track of it every day. We talk about it every day in the meetings. It’s just one of our main goals to create havoc. When you preach that, it’s going to happen.”

Coach Kirby Smart erased some assumptions about what Havoc is when he stated, “I think a lot of people expect to see more people coming.” (Blitzing) “Havoc does not equal pressure. Havoc equals having an ability to get a hand on the ball, to bat a ball, to cause a turnover — to do those things … We have to go out and execute it and play with really quick explosiveness upfront — not just catch blocks, but try to disrupt.”

My FishDuck friends, I have not heard anything like this from any defensive coordinator in Oregon’s past. As devoted Duck fans this is so important to learn, to reflect upon and to discuss over at the OBD forum because …

“Oh, how we love to ponder about Our Beloved Ducks!”

Charles Fischer   (Mr. FishDuck)
Eugene, Oregon
Top Photo from Georgia Football Twitter

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