Dave Aranda’s introductory news conference as LSU’s defensive coordinator was a year in the making. The former Wisconsin coach was one of many candidates interviewed for the position last year in the wake of John Chavis’ sudden departure to Texas A&M.
Where did Aranda rank among those candidates Tigers’ coach Les Miles spoke with at the end of last season?
As Miles tells it, he was “the absolute star.”
“When you check his credentials, you find out he starting coaching as a player and has done nothing but live and sleep football for his time. There’s no surprise that his defenses are nationally ranked year-in and year-out,” Miles said Tuesday morning during the news conference. “We look forward to adding his skills to our staff. We feel like he gives us a great edge.”
Aranda said he’s humbled by the hire and thanked his players and colleagues at Wisconsin. The coach said he watched some film of the Tigers before his first meeting with the local media and expressed excitement about pairing his defensive philosophy with LSU’s talent.
“It has always been a goal of mine to coach in this league and to be coaching for Miles, who I have so much respect for,” Aranda said. “…I’m excited about what the future brings here, to work with the great coaching staff assembled here. I always believe a defense is putting the best players in the best spots to make plays. This is the first stage: identifying those players, who we are and what we can improve on.”
Here are more news nuggets from the presser:
- Matchup problems: Aranda is known for his exotic, multiple defenses that aim to create mismatches with the offense. He explained his philosophy as such: “(It’s) smart aggression. You want to be aggressive on defense. You want to play with an offensive mindset but do it in a way that’s intelligent. You want to flip the math the best you can and keep the big plays to a minimum. Define your best players, get them matched up on their worst players and do it over and over again.”
- From foe to friend: Miles is more than familiar with Aranda’s defensive schemes — they coached against each other only a little more than a year ago, after all. LSU defeated Wisconsin 28-24 in last season’s opener in Houston, though the Tigers scored only 13 points through the first three quarters. “Having run through and seen his defense firsthand, I can virtually, off of the game’s experience, tell him what his defense was like to go against,” Miles said. “We were fortunate to finish on top in the one match that we had with him. But that defense was the toughest defense for us to scheme (for) and go against on the year. “
- Double duty: Aranda said he’s “still talking with Miles” about potentially being a position coach while handling defensive coordinator duties. He has coached defensive linemen, inside linebackers and defensive backs during his previous coaching stops.
- Up or down?: Aranda said he still hasn’t determined whether he’ll coach the Tigers from the booth or on the field, saying “It’s about what fits best.”. Aranda has done both in the past but said he spent most of his time at Wisconsin down on the field. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who spent the entire regular season in the booth, moved to the field for the Texas Bowl and coached LSU to a 56-point outburst.
- Jostling for juniors: Several juniors are considering declaring for the NFL Draft, but Aranda is already working to keep them in Baton Rouge. Though he hasn’t officially met with any of the players, the coach said he has “made a couple of overtures” to them. Cornerback Tre’Davious White, linebacker Kendell Beckwith, defensive tackle Christian LaCouture and defensive end Lewis Neal all requested draft grades from the NFL College Advisory Committe. LaCouture’s draft stock, however, may take a hit after he fractured his forearm late in the Texas Bowl.
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