Football Coaching Staff
Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator
Dave Aranda, the mastermind of LSU's defense that allowed the fewest touchdowns (16) and fewest touchdowns per game (1.3) in college football in 2016, returns for his second year as the Tiger defensive coordinator and inside linebackers coach in 2017.
Aranda added the title of associate head coach last December after directing one of the nation's most dominating defenses a year ago. In his first year with the Tigers, Aranda was the architect for a LSU defense that in the Top 10 nationally in scoring (No. 5 at 15.8 points per game) and total yards (No. 10 at 314.4 yards per game).
LSU finished ranked among the top three in the SEC in the four major defensive categories a year ago – No. 2 in scoring defense and rushing defense (117.2 yards per game) and No. 3 in total defense and pass defense (197.2 yards per game). It marked the first time since 2006 that LSU finished in the top three in the SEC in those four categories since 2006.
In 2016, LSU held six of its 12 opponents to fewer than 300 total yards and only once did the Tigers allow 400 yards in a game. LSU capped the year with perhaps its most dominating performance of the season, limiting Louisville and its Heisman Trophy quarterback, Lamar Jackson, without a touchdown for the only time all season in the 29-9 victory. LSU held Louisville to season lows for points (9) and rushing yards (67) as the Tigers recorded eight sacks, just one shy of tying the school record.
Overall in 12 games, the Tigers held opponents to one touchdown or less in nine games and only one team scored more than two offensive touchdowns against LSU in 2016 (Texas A&M). After allowing two first half touchdowns to Ole Miss, the Tigers shutout the Rebels in the second half and then stretched the scoreless streak to five-straight quarters with three scoreless quarters against Alabama.
Now entering his fifth season as a defensive coordinator at a Power 5 Conference school, Aranda's defense has ranked in the Top 10 nationally in total yards four consecutive years. His defense has also ranked among the top 10 in scoring four of the past five years. In that five-year span, Aranda's defense has allowed a touchdown or less in 37-of-65 games, which includes three years at Wisconsin and one each at LSU and Utah State.
Other defensive highlights for the Tigers in 2016 include outside linebacker Arden Key breaking school record for sacks in a season with 12; leading the nation in redzone touchdowns allowed (8); leading the SEC in first downs allowed (192); and ranking No. 2 in the SEC in third-down conversions (32.3 percent).
Prior to joining the Tigers, Aranda served in the same capacity at Wisconsin, where he led a Badgers defense that in a combined three-year span, ranked in the top five in the nation in the four major defensive categories – scoring, total yards, passing yards and rushing yards.
From 2013-15, Aranda's defense allowed an average of 289.4 yards per game – which ranked first in the nation over that span. His defense allowed 16.9 points (No. 2 nationally), 179.9 passing yards (No. 3 nationally) and 109.6 rushing yards (No. 4 nationally) over the three years, a stretch that saw Wisconsin post a 30-10 record, reach the Big Ten title game in 2014 and play in two New Year's Day bowl games.
In three years at Wisconsin, Aranda's defense pitched five shutouts (2 in 2013 and 2015, 1 in 2014) and didn't allow opponents to score more than a single touchdown in 18 games over that stretch.
Aranda's 2015 defense capped the regular season leading the nation in points allowed at 13.1 points a contest. Wisconsin ranked No. 3 in the nation in total defense (268.5 yards per game), No. 4 in rushing defense (95.4 yards per game) and No. 7 in passing defense (173.2 yards per game).
LSU opened the 2014 season against Aranda and Wisconsin, winning 28-24. However. Aranda's defense limited the Tigers to 126 rushing yards as LSU used a fourth-quarter rally to beat the Badgers in Houston.
Aranda's top defensive product as Wisconsin was linebacker Chris Borland, who was named 2014 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-American as a senior. Borland was a third-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers. Aranda also saw noseguard Beau Allen (Philadelphia) and safety Dezmen Southward (Atlanta) selected in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Aranda spent the 2012 season at Utah State where he helped the Aggies to a school record 11 wins (2 losses) and a 41-15 victory over Toledo in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. As the defensive coordinator at USU, he oversaw an Aggies defense that ranked seventh in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 15.4 points per game.
In addition to scoring defense, Utah State also ranked among the top 15 nationally in sacks (eighth), pass efficiency defense (10th), rush defense (12th) and total defense (15th). In the red zone, the Aggies were particularly effective, allowing opponents to score on just 63.6 percent of their trips inside the 20-yard line, a mark that tied them for third in the country in red zone defense. USU opponents scored just 13 TDs in 44 red zone opportunities (29.5 percent).
Prior to his season at Utah State, Aranda spent four years at Hawai'i, the last two as the Warriors' defensive coordinator after coaching the defensive line his first two years. During the 2011 season at Hawai'i, Aranda's defense led the Western Athletic Conference and was tied for 15th in the FBS in sacks with 35.
In 2010, Aranda's Hawai'i defense led the nation in turnovers caused (38), while ranking second in the nation in interceptions (23) and ninth in fumbles recovered (15), as well as tying the school record for most defensive touchdowns with five.
Prior to Hawai'i, Aranda coached at Delta State University in 2007, where he served as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach. Following the season, he signed on to become Southern Utah's defensive coordinator for new head coach Ed Lamb and was on the job for one month before head coach Greg McMackin called and asked Aranda to join the Hawai'i staff.
In one year at Delta State, Aranda helped the school win the Gulf South Conference and lead NCAA Division II in pass efficiency defense, ranking second in total and scoring defense, and third in run defense.
Before Delta State, Aranda spent two years as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at his alma mater, California Lutheran, where the Kingsmen led the conference in scoring defense and total defense. It was his second go-around with California Lutheran after serving as an assistant from 1996-99, while finishing his degree.
From 2003-04, Aranda was the linebackers coach at the University of Houston and before that he served as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech.
After he graduated from Redlands High School in California in 1994, numerous surgeries followed and ended his playing career. In 1995, he started his coaching resume at Redlands as an assistant coach. Aranda graduated from California Lutheran in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. In 2002, he earned his master's degree in interdisciplinary studies at Texas Tech.
Aranda and his wife, Dione, have two daughters, Jaelyn and Jordyn, and a son, Ronin.
The Aranda File