Dave Aranda: We played less than 1/4 of the defense we had at Wisconsin

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday May 17, 2017


Dave Aranda kept his defense to a minimum in his first season at LSU, and it worked. This year, he’s starting from the ground floor.

The Tigers had an experienced defense and finished No. 5 in scoring D in 2016 — up from No. 41 the year before. This year, it’s an inexperienced group, and Aranda had to adjust in spring. Instead of adding on top of last year, it’s building from the basics.

We really played three defenses throughout the year. About probably less than a fourth of what we had in Wisconsin,” Aranda said this week. "You'd like to be able to come back in year two, and naturally you'd think we're going to add this, we're going to add that. We're going to expand. Well, we're starting all over.

“We didn't have Arden (Key) in the spring so we had eight new guys. … The difference is, last year we had guys that’d played a lot of football. If there was 100 percent capacity in terms of knowledge and savviness, some were 60-70 percent filled. We could fill in our 30 percent and work with the other 70 percent they had and make it as best we could. Now we’re talking about guys that are 5 percent, 10 percent, because they’re brand new.”

LSU is No. 103 in total returning starters, and only 11 schools have fewer than LSU’s 5 returning defensive starters, per Phil Steele.

"They don't know that they don't know," Aranda said. "So you're continually adding there. When you are approached with something like that and an offense like what Matt (Canada) is doing, there's going to be some ugly days. I thought we got better and better."

Aranda will be the highest-paid assistant in college football this year, at $1.7 million. Starting from the ground includes teaching the basic fundamentals and instincts. Aranda could trust LSU’s veteran players to understand situational football last year.

But there’s no shortage of talent, and it’s on Aranda to get them ready by the opener against BYU in Houston.

“Whether it's 3rd-and-1 and expect a QB sneak under center. There were times last year, to be honest, I wouldn't really make a big deal about it,” he said. “Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley and (Davon) Godchaux, they'd see that and they'd play it, because they'd been there and done that before. Coach (John) Chavis or someone had mentioned it.

The guys we're dealing with now, if I don't say it, they don't know it. So you're coaching everything. It's a slower pace than a year ago."

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.