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ATVS Roundtable: The Dave Aranda Hire

We discuss LSU's big coaching move.

Roundtable going UP...on a Tuesday...
Roundtable going UP...on a Tuesday...
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

I haven't watched a Wisconsin game since LSU faced them in Houston. With all of our hopes set for the playoffs with the 2016 team, is he the kind of coach that will be able to mesh well with the personnel we already have?


So far, from what I can draw from interviews and what we can piece together from the man's own stuff is that while he seems to have more of a 3-4 preference, he's not a "3-4 guy," really. It's in his wheelhouse because he likes having the freedom to move guys around and adjust his pressure to the offense's protections, and that's definitely easier to do in the 3-4.

But given LSU's scarcity at linebacker, he may have to adjust that a little bit. Depending on what Christian LaCouture and Lewis Neal do, he could easily have a very talented defensive line back next year, and one with a lot of experience working together, too. Much more so than at linebacker, where LSU's almost certainly starting a freshman.


I think it will be interesting to see what he can do with actual talent at each position.  Make no mistake, he got the most out of the little talent that he had at Wisconsin, so it will be intriguing what he can do with All-American level recruits.

His biggest recruiting job upon arrival will be convincing Beckwith to stay. With a new and very unique defense, you need guys like Beckwith and Adams out on the field to guide these players, especially the very young group of LBers that Beckwith will be surrounded by.


I'm not too worried about the personnel, if anything the Steele hire might have been a blessing in disguise for Aranda. We talked about Steele's tendency's running a three man front and how that would factor into recruiting, so I'd imagine scheme versatility was a factor in some of the incoming players.

Echoing what everyone else has said though, what he does his first year will likely depend on the draft eligible players and what they decide to do. I am kind of curious to see if players Adams and Godchaux can still perform at a high level with their third defensive coordinator in three years.


I'm not too worried about things on the personnel front. Firstly, I think Aranda will adapt to what we have. I've read interview after interview where he talked about deploying the scheme based on what's available. Secondly, even if he wants to go 3-4, we have guys to do it. It just takes a little roster re-imagination. Gilmore, Godchaux, LaCouture, Herron and Bower on the DL with incoming freshmen. Guys like Key and Neal could play DL or OLB situationally. The biggest question is counting on incoming freshmen to contribute at LB, but that's going to have to happen anyways, in all likelihood.


I really can't speak to anything regarding scheme or personnel fit other than what I've read and seen about Aranda, but I have to think that the talent at LSU will allow Aranda to be versatile. I'm honestly not worried. He's had success everywhere he has coached, and I think it'll be no different in Baton Rouge.

I bet the talent was the second factor in him coming to LSU. Right after the whooping fat paycheck he's gonna get.

Watson Tiger

He doesn't run the 3-3-5, so I dislike him.

But really, I'd be lying if I said he wasn't on my radar until the Wisconsin game last year. I'll echo what I said when the hire was announced: Wisconsin was second in scoring defense this year. Only Alabama was better, and they were only fractionally better. Now look at the talent that Alabama brings in and then look at the talent Wisconsin brings in. Spoiler alert, in Aranda's first year, 2013, Alabama had the #1 recruiting class while Wisconsin sat at 42.

That kind of player development doesn't guarantee JJ Watt level of superstar talent, but it more often than not build solid defenses. To say I'm excited is an understatement. This wasn't a home run hire, this was a walkoff to dead center.


That much is clear. Regardless of whether this works out or not, Les Miles definitely went out and got the hottest defensive coordinator available. He didn't go the "experience" route, or the "connections" one -- Aranda has some ties to the area, but he's never coached in the SEC or the like before.

And to Dan's point, there's definitely some versatile guys on this roster to work with, and if Beckwith returns that could settle a lot of things in the middle. Watching the defense this spring will be more interesting than it has been in some time. More so than the offense, possibly.


And really, I think the formations are overblown. How we line up is relatively unimportant. Aranda seems more interested in the techniques being played. Does he want to one-gap with the DL or two-gap? Who can do which? Which LBs can blitz and bring pressure? Which DBs should play up in the box and which should play back deep? This is the roster assessment he'll be tasked with in his early days, while also having to firm up the current recruiting class.

I'll tell you this much, I'm not sure what he's like as a recruiter. He's never been in position to do it at this level. But he's shown to be a really good evaluator and one helluva a LB coach. I'm also very interested in what he does there. At Wisconsin he was the DC and ILB coach. Does he shake up responsibilities any? If we shift to more of a 3-4, does Coach O take the down guys AND the OLB pass rushers? Will Peveto be retained and reassigned?

There's a lot of really interesting questions looming beyond whether or not we run a 4-3 or a 3-4.


Yeah, I think there's more interesting things than the formation. I think the formation will be shifted a lot, it will depend on who comes back and who leaves for the draft - the first interesting thing we'll see happen. The formation could be complex, maybe more simple. Who knows. Either way, I think his particular work with the LBs - if he chooses to do that, or if Peveto maybe slides over and works with them if a staff change occurs with special teams, will be really interesting. Especially because we have a lot of young guys coming in. Whether he exerts any influence over DB and defensive line or just leaves them to Coach O and Raymond will also be interesting. And of course recruiting.

So there's a lot of interesting things that will come from this, stuff worth looking at, beyond the formation. Because I'm confident he'll get that right based on what we have. He always has.


I've sat out most of this roundtable because I feel it has missed the point so spectacularly that I have nothing to contribute. I mean, how many angels CAN dance on the head of a pin?

I don't care if Aranda runs the defensive version of the A-11 and just puts 11 defensive backs out there, forgoing the defensive line completely. The point is, we got rid of a guy who was demonstrably bad at his job and replaced him with a guy who is near the top of the field. Period. Everything else is failing to see the forest because you're too busy inspecting the graduation of some bark. He's been the author of some of the best defenses in the country for the past four seasons, so he has carte blanche to come here and do whatever the hell he wants, particularly after a season in which we posted the worst defensive performance of the Miles era at LSU.

A week ago, LSU employed one of the worst defensive coordinators at a Power-5 conference school. Now, LSU employs one of the best. It's really that simple. Finally, a guy worth throwing all of that money at.


This is undoubtedly a home run hire. Aranda's ability to create top defenses with arguably lesser talent than LSU has gives me hope for what 2016 will look like. The cliche is that it's not X's and O's, it's Jimmies and Joes. Aranda puts LSU in the unique position to have the talent and the proven scheme with a younger guy who can probably connect better with the team. Obviously the ACC Coastal killed the coaching carousel with their head coach hires, but I honestly think this may be the assistant coach hire of the cycle, rivaling Don Brown from Boston College going to Michigan.