Sometimes, Dave Aranda uses three defensive linemen in the normal down stance.
Sometimes, he uses two.
And, sometimes … well, sometimes, he uses none.
“There’s times when there’s no down linemen. Everyone’s standing up,” said Gerry DiNardo, the former LSU head coach-turned football analyst.
DiNardo is looking into a camera during a five-minute video clip that aired on the Big Ten Network, where he now works analyzing the game he once coached. This segment is about Aranda, the Wisconsin defensive coordinator hired Friday to take over LSU’s defense.
The segment is specifically devoted to Aranda’s variable defensive front and pass-rushing philosophy. DiNardo watched a Wisconsin practice during this past season and then pored over game tape with Aranda for 30 minutes.
“Ever since Dave Aranda got to Wisconsin, we’ve been intrigued by this 30 defense,” he says on the broadcast. “Dave Aranda calls defenses like most coaches call offensive plays.”
The 30 Defense is a variation of the 3-3 or the 3-4, according to the example above. But that’s not the focus of this segment on Big Ten Network, and it’s not necessarily the primary thing that intrigues DiNardo – Aranda’s pass-rushing scheme is.
The goal of his scheme: create one-on-one mismatches for his pass rushers.
How does he do that? He doesn’t overload one side like many coaches – four defenders to the left side of center for three blockers, for example.
No, that’s not his style. Aranda confuses offensive linemen by having his defenders – defensive tackles and defensive ends included – stand up.
This goes against traditional football formations – with three or four defensive linemen, their hands on the ground, rushing the passer and offensive linemen blocking them.
But what if O-linemen don’t know who the defensive linemen are and who exactly will definitely rush the passer?
“The defensive linemen are in a two-point stance instead of a three point stance,” DiNardo said regarding a clip of Aranda’s defense with not a single player with his hand on the ground. “There’s clip after clip of five offensive linemen blocking the two (standup) linemen because the offensive linemen can’t identify who the other rushers are.”
“It’s very intriguing,” DiNardo adds.
Pardon Aranda’s football lingo when discussing his pass-rushing scheme.
“Three down linemen are going to attack blockers. There’s always a want-to of a down lineman whooping a blocker that’s right in front of him,” Aranda said. “But if we can get something for nothing and get a linebacker run-through [blitzing] because he’s not targeted (by the O-linemen) because he’s the second guy in the progression … O-linemen are going to fire out at D-linemen and try to get movement, but here comes a run-through (by a linebacker) or here comes a (linebacker) off the edge so (the offensive lineman) has to come off a lineman. It’s lending a helping hand to that D-lineman to be able to make plays.”oi4rjlwef
Translation: Aranda brings blitzes from linebackers while four confused offensive linemen are engaging in the blocking of just two defensive linemen (shown above).
The matchups are the key, though. For instance, in the clip shown on Big Ten Network, Aranda matches up a quick, nimble outside linebacker with a big, slow tackle. He matches an inside linenbacker, with a running head start, with a running back blocking in pass protection.
“We’re not overloading,” Aranda said. “We’re trying to get matchups. We’re trying to get one-on-ones. Let’s win the one-on-ones.
“If there’s any hesitation with (the offensive lineman) – ‘Who’s got that guy’ or ‘Do I need to pinch down?’ – we’re going to win getting around the tackle,” he said.
DiNardo is impressed with Aranda.
“I don’t remember the last time I learned more football in 30 minutes than the 30 minutes I sat with Dave Aranda,” he says.