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Decoding Dave Aranda

LSU’s DC gave us some clues as to what he’s scheming up.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Louisiana State vs Central Florida Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

LSU’s Dave Aranda went on the radio last week and talked about the state of his defense and delivered some juicy tidbits for all of us who are counting down the days until Texas Georgia Southern.

You can also listen to the interview here. There’s a lot of fun stuff in there considering how secretive football coaches are. There’s some good stuff about how he feels Joe Burrow is progressing and how the offense might look from a formation and scheme standpoint. I’m going to dive into some of the things he had to say about his defense that I thought needed to be fleshed out a bit.

K’Lavon Chaisson

Aranda talks about how they felt that Chaisson was really good at what people call, “banging the B-gap” and Aranda calls “bender”.

With Chaisson lined up almost exclusively as a C-gap defender, when a C-gap pressure is called for a linebacker or secondary player, Chaisson needs to find his way into the next gap inside. The goal is to attract the offensive tackle and shorten the window of the the new edge rusher. Most, if not all, blitzes have this affect. There are “penetrators” and “loopers”. The penetrator attacks first trying to create havoc on the offensive line and ultimately flush the quarterback into the path of the looper.

The penetrator is the set-up man, but what Aranda is saying is that Chaisson is so good he gets to the quarterback even with this technique. His speed is probably the biggest factor for him. In 2018, Aranda wanted to send boundary cornerback blitzes outside of his star rusher Chaisson. This is in the 1st quarter of the Miami game:

Here’s Chaisson knocking down the guard and then eventually getting a pressure:

Interior Guys

Aranda gushed about Tyler Shelvin and “Apu” as his two nose tackles for this year. LSU’s defense bases with a “0” nose which puts this player directly over top of the offensive center. This is Aranda’s “tite” front and it’s really played to stop the run. The pass rush capabilities with only 1 true edge rusher, a 0 zero nose and two defensive ends tucked away inside the offensive tackles is limited.

Aranda said that he thinks both players would be best served playing from a “shade”. Instead of being directly over the center, they will align on the outside shoulder of the center. In pass rush situations this will help the nose tackle. Winning one-on-ones in the pass rush means picking an offensive lineman’s shoulder, attacking it and then making a move off it. Lined up as a center means either only having a head up bull rush move to pick from or having to waste time getting on either side of the center and then starting your attack. You also have either guard who can help out and double team you. Starting from a nose makes things easier. Although, I do like the tite front for run defense, if the nose is really special, putting him as a shade can get him into the backfield quicker.

Michael Divinity

After seeing all the positions that Aranda lined up Grant Delpit in last year, it will be interesting to see where he can move Michael Divinity around this year. Without Chaisson last year, Divinity played the boundary outside linebacker (our base down edge rusher) position and he was good. With Chaisson back, this could mean a few things. If LSU wants to get away from the tite front and play a true 40 front (they already play a whole bunch of under) this could put both Chaisson and Divinity on the field as edge rushers at the same time.

Chaisson would play B and Divinity would play E on the strong side.

This is something we’ll see a lot of anyways, but I don’t know how often we’ll see it on base downs. The other option is to put Divinity at the field outside linebacker position, which is the more classically off the ball linebacker position for Aranda. You won’t get the pass rush ability but if the staff thinks he’s legitimately one of the most well rounded players on the field, this could be a spot for him. He could also just play inside. I think the team likes Patrick Queen and Jacob Phillips a lot but maybe Divinity is that good.

On passing downs, I’m less worried because unless someone else jumps off the screen in August, I think you’ll see a heavy dose of Divinity as an edge rusher in Aranda’s Peso package.

That’s Peso, where Divinity would be F.

Aranda gave us some good ideas to speculate about for the rest of the offseason. At the end of the day, these are good problems to have with all the defensive talent bubbling out of Tiger Stadium right now.