Dave Aranda can finally hang his television on his wall.
That's the prize awaiting LSU's defensive coordinator now that the season is over.
"My house, we have a couch and there’s a TV. Nice size TV. TV was on (a) box. You sit on the couch and you’ve got your drink of choice – whatever it is – right in front of it," Aranda said. "You sit back on the couch and your feet are up and you’re seeing the TV through the bottle.
"Earlier in the year, I was talking to my wife. I was like, ‘Should we do something about getting the TV up?’ She nudged me and said, ‘Let’s see after the season.’ So I’m glad we can get the TV up."
Aranda met with local reporters in a scheduled media session for the first time since the spring. He spoke publicly since an interview with The Advocate in July.
A lot has happened in between. He installed a new 3-4 defense, for instance. The man who hired him was fired and a permanent coach was hired. Meanwhile, his defense finished nationally 13th in total defense and sixth in scoring defense, and he signed a new three-year contract making him, for now, the highest-paid coordinator in college football.
"I’m excited to be here," Aranda said. "Any time you can lay down roots, it’s a positive."
Matt Canada scored his first points as LSU's offensive coordinator Wednesday night.
Size up your first season, the good and bad.
I enjoyed working the coaches, enjoyed working with the players. I thought the buy-on was there. Thought we were able to identify what we were good at and do it a lot. Tried to minimize the adjustments we had to make, communication errors. There's a learning curve with that the first couple of games.
I give the credit to the coaches. I give credit to the players. When we first got hired, we talked about what we worked on in spring ball is what we wanted to work on during the bowl week and last week of the season.
I'm proud of that. I think the players earned the confidence and dependability in their job and everyone else's job. That gives credence to playing team defense and being accountable.
Tell us more about the house that you bought from Matt Canada at Wisconsin in 2012.
We just sold it. Took us a while to sell it. Great little neighborhood. When we’re coming in around this time, similar to what’s happening with Matt, around this time I got the job at Wisconsin, I’m getting all of these texts from (NC State coaches), ‘Buy Matt’s house.’ ‘It’s a great house.’
I’ve got a lot of respect for him. I’m excited he’s here.
How involved were you in Matt's hire as LSU's offensive coordinator?
I was just asked my opinion of him. I think very highly of him. Any time you come into a new spot, you want to be players first. You want to be able to adapt to the players.
There’s not a lot of guy that do that better than Matt . Whether it’s moving to spread concepts here or using the running backs we have here or finding a way to involve the receivers that we have here, I know he’ll do that. I’m excited about the intelligence he brings and dedication he brings and production he brings.
It’s a good day.
Do you agree that his offensive approach is similar to your defensive approach?
I do. I do. We played them when he was at Wisconsin and I was at Utah State. I feel like we should have won that game. We lost at the end. It was a tight game.
Jetsweep is a big, big component (of his offense). Misdirection he does with all of the motions and shifts and the quarterback run, as a defensive coordinator, you love to see this offense in the spring because you see everything. When we come out of spring, there won’t be one thing we haven’t seen.
What were the negatives this year?
Always trying to play to our strengths. I think we were able to do that. Think we were able to keep 3-4 concepts and find ways to rush Arden Key. Those are almost two separate things. We were able to do that. Early on in the year, I made the mistake of playing too many zones.
I take accountability for it. So much of it is seeing things for what they are and not for what you want them to be or what they could be, but for what they are. The hard truths are the biggest thing. Some of the zones we were playing, I put too much into it. There were some mistakes earlier in the season. Since then, I think it's really been simplified. I'm proud of the coaches. I thought we played better.
We get to this last game and it's an opportunity to play off some of the things we've done, and take it to the next level. We've been dominated by D-linemen, dominated by DBs. Some of that is going to change, in terms of who we've got coming back and what their strengths are. It's a good turn of events in this bowl game.
You guys are thin at linebacker as well heading into next season. How do you see that playing out?
We’re working on it. There's some young guys that are going to be able to take roles as outside linebackers who are real versatile, giving you the ability to rush and drop and create different looks. When you’ve got pass rushers, you’re always hesitant about dropping them. When you have the athletes on the outside – Ray Thornton, (Michael) Divnity – there’s opportunities to rush and drop and create opportunities for other guys rushing.
Who do you expect to step up in place of Kendell Beckwith and Duke Riley?
We’re going to need Donnie Alexander, Devin White. Those are the two who immediately come to mind. (Devin) Voorhies has opportunities too. It’s going to be a great challenge. I’m personally motivated by that challenge.
I compare this very much to when I go to Wisconsin, that first year after coach Canada left, was a very heavy senior class. We played there very much like we played here – basic, simple concepts, teaching the foundation. Had two great linebackers there.
When they graduated, some guys behind them who were good quality guys and they did. They were all conference. Year after that, we were playing with all freshmen. This next year is a combination of those two years. Any time you’re a position coach, when you’re presented that, it gets you going. I’m energized by that.
Talk about the bowl matchup with Louisville and Heisman winner Lamar Jackson.
No. 1 offense in the country. Quarterback is a really good player. So, you know, it’s Merry Christmas to everybody.
The quarterback does such a great job at creating plays with his feet. Makes plays with his feet. He’s got a lively arm. That combined with the pass concepts they run ... if you're in quarters (zone) coverage, you're going to get the hardest routes to defend in quarters. If you're in man a lot, you're in a lot of bunch, rub routes. We've been getting those lately.
The quarterback run is the more proficient. I give credit to Coach Petrino. What they do best is when you think it’s pass, they run it. When you think it’s run, they throw it. They keep everything off balance.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron doesn't want to make any guarantees.
What were the negatives of 2016?
Mississippi State game, Texas A&M game, a few other instances come to mind. We’re playing really well, doing what we have to do. I’ve allowed a let up, allowed a lapse so it’s my fault. I take accountability. I have to fix it. I have to work on that. The standard is acknowledged that we need to play. We have to reach that standard. It's really high.
That's the area we can get better. The other are is ... this year we played a very basic style. Will be interesting to see what the bowl game brings. We’re very much a here we are, what you going to do about it? That was our personality, the D-linemen we have. Next year is going to be a different year. That allows for whatever creativity.
Do you ever want to be a head coach?
I think it is. The hard part for me is when I get asked that, I don’t really think of it. Any time you can be a head coach, you get to work with people you want to work with. If it's a good job, you have opportunity to win. Those are two things you ask for being a head coach.
That will come when it comes. I love defense, love the defensive staff was have here. I love our players. I’m excited about taking that next step.
We have the opportunity to be a really good as a team. What Coach Canada brings and the leadership Coach O provides, we’re going to be good. I’m excited to be a part of it.
How much more difficult is going to be without Duke Riley and Kendell Beckwith next season?
You start your first year and got a bunch of veteran players and you’re the third guy in three years … what we call "Hammer" is called something (else), there’s difficulties there. You’re working with guys that are really talented with a lot of playing experience. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s not.
There’s a dance you take with that, utilizing the good stuff and minimizing the stuff you don’t really want. I think there’s a feeling out process to where you get on the same page. The advantage of going through that year and coming back, even though they are younger players, they’ve seen what you’re asking him and know the expectations of the standards are. All of those advantages are there. You’re not dancing. You’re going forward.
Do you ever get angry? Were you angry after the A&M game and what is that like?
Nothing is ever going to be dramatic. I was very disappointed. I take accountability for it. I was disappoitnied in myself. The way I handled our guys in the second half. We didn’t finish it.
I feel that was my biggest failure this year. Opportunity to play four quarters against a great offense, great players and a great offensive coach (in the bowl). I'm looking forward to that.