BATON ROUGE, La. — There are many reasons Dave Aranda is the highest paid defensive coordinator in college football. Among them? Sometimes he has to figure out how to field a stingy defense without the benefit of LSU’s most electric pass rusher, Arden Key.
Key is not expected to be ready for the Tigers’ season opener against Brigham Young as he continues his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. And since you can’t just plug in another Arden Key, Aranda is taking a completely different strategic approach for when the junior is not on the field.
“If you have Arden, you feature him and get him in position to create mismatches,” Aranda said. “You find the weakest offender and put Arden there and show numbers away from Arden so a choice has to be made. You gear everything you’re doing around him.”
When he doesn’t have Key, Aranda has to dig deeper into his vast football mind.
“If you don’t have Arden, you lose that aspect. Now it’s very much a team effort,” he said. “There’s more blitzes involved. There’s more we’re gonna show inside pressure and bring outside pressure. Show overload pressure. It’s less featuring Arden and there’s more of a team aspect to it.”
The players most likely to temporarily replace Key — Ray Thornton and K’Lavon Chaisson — have different strengths that lend to different situations on the field.
“Chaisson, there’s a lot of merit to him being on the field when it’s a pass and a lot of merit to Ray when they are gonna run the ball,” Aranda said. “They’re each working on their respective issues. But they are very much battling.”
And Key is very much a part of it too, even though he has not yet been cleared for contact.
“It’s great having Arden around,” Aranda said. “Before the last scrimmage he went to one of the refs and put his arm around him and said ‘If it’s not a sack, it’s because they’re holding us.’
“So Arden is the greatest champion of defense we’ve got. The energy he brings. The smile on his face lights up everyone’s day. I can’t wait for him to be back.”
Among the LSU faithful, Aranda is certainly not alone in that assessment.
The post Dave Aranda discusses how Arden Key’s absence changes LSU’s defense appeared first on SEC Country.
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