LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda talks about co-existing with Matt Canada's up-tempo offense, as well as some of the players he's most excited about heading into his second season with the Tigers.
Aranda took time to talk about the upcoming season Thursday on After Further Review with Matt Moscona on 104.5 ESPN-FM in Baton Rouge.
He also revealed one thing that he's just not good at.
Q. The offense is expected to step up the tempo this season, which could lead to the defense being on the field more. Does that changes anything on defense?
A. "No. You build the defense based upon the people that you have, the 11 guys you got and the challenge you're presented offensively." However, he added that Canada's scheme could create major problems for defense lined up across the ball.
Q. Does depth and rotating players become more important?
A. I think, in general, it always is. I think the more people you play, the better the morale is. You want as many people contributing to a win as possible.
Q. What are your thoughts on Donnie Alexander? Does he fit the mold of first-year starting senior linebackers breaking out in their final season, like Deion Jones (2015) and Duke Riley? (2016)?
A. "What I'm really excited about Donnie is the strides that he's made... He's a leader on our team. Hs an emerging leader. And that's so cool to see. I think he's strong and he's confident about hitting folks... So I think there's a lot of momentum going Donnie's way. Now, it's just a matter of connecting the dots... I'd put my money on Donnie right now.
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Q. Do you have an update on Arden Key, who underwent shoulder surgery in late May and could miss early-season game action while recovering?
A. "He's working himself into shape. He's putting on weight... I'm excited to have Arden. I'm excited to build on what Arden is able to do."
Q. If Arden Key is not on the field, how does that affect how you prepare?
A. "Any time we have him, we're going to feature him. And we're going to try to get matchups with him ... Arden can change the math for us. If we don't have Arden -- and we don't have our threat that emerges that can rush the passer like Arden -- that forces us to change the math, I think. So, you're playing two different games there. It's working with what you've got. And we'd much rather have him than not."
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Q. What do you see in Todd Harris, a freshman, four-star safety from Plaquemine, that suggests he could be a future star?
A. He just gets it. Watching him from afar, he's always early to things... When he's running sprints, he always finishes to the line. When you watch him, he stands out as someone that is going hard, putting it all out there... There's a look in his eye that he's all business. It's a good feeling you get from him."
Q. What keeps you up at night these days?
A. Oh, just waiting to get back to work. Vacation was fun ... I've never really been on vacation before. So I'm not very good at it, come to find out... (laughing) It was good, and I enjoyed being around my family, and I think my wife had fun. Five days is a long time. It's like two days and then OK, lets put on some New England Patriots film or something like that.
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