Notes on the Coach – Baylor

Payne Williams, Senior Sports Reporter

Baylor head coach Dave Aranda knows defense and success. Aranda served as defensive coordinator for multiple programs including LSU, Wisconsin, Utah State, Cal Lutheran, Delta State and Hawaii. Not to mention Aranda was part of a national championship team.

Prior to his arrival to Waco in 2020, Aranda was defensive coordinator at LSU. He helped lead the Tigers to an SEC Championship in 2019 and an undefeated national title run in 2020.

Aranda served as defensive coordinator at LSU for four seasons from 2016-2019. During that span, LSU ranked as one of the SEC’s best defenses and produced a plethora of future NFL stars including players like Tre’Davious White, Derek Stingley Jr. and Jamal Adams.

Last season, which was Aranda’s second in Waco, the head coach led Baylor to its first 12-win season in program history. The Bears capped their record-setting year with the program’s first-ever New Year’s Six bowl win in a victory over Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. The Bears finished the 2021 season ranked No. 5 nationally — the highest final AP ranking in Baylor’s history.

With the help of defensive coordinator Ron Roberts, Aranda’s 2021 defense was one of three in the nation to hold each opponent to 30 points or fewer. 

This season, Aranda’s defense is among the best in the nation, allowing under 300 yards passing per game and ranking second in the Big 12 in total yards allowed. Baylor’s defense is also third in the Big 12 in turnovers forced per game with 1.6.

Aranda’s success on defense has eclipsed multiple programs throughout his career. From 2013-2015, Aranda served as defensive coordinator for Wisconsin, and in that span, the Badgers were top five in the nation in the defensive categories of scoring, rush yards, pass yards and total yards. 

Prior to his time at Wisconsin, Aranda spent the 2012 season as defensive coordinator at Utah State, where he led the Aggies to their first 11-win season in program history. Utah State’s defense allowed just 15.4 points per game, placing it as the nation’s No. 7 scoring defense.

Aranda served as the defensive coordinator at Hawaii from 2010-2011 and served as the Warriors’ defensive line coach for two seasons from 2008-2009. In the 2010 season, the Warriors’ defense led the Western Athletic Conference with 35 sacks.

Aranda’s first stint as defensive coordinator came in 2008 at Southern Utah where he spent a month before joining Hawaii the same year.

But Aranda’s coaching career is rooted in the state of Texas. The Bears’ head coach was Houston’s linebacker coach from 2003-2004 after his time as a graduate assistant at Texas Tech.

Aranda uses a 3-4 defense at Baylor, which gives the Bears one more linebacker or player in pass coverage at the expense of a defensive lineman. However, the extra linebacker doesn’t detract from Baylor’s pass rush. Aranda gets creative with various blitzes and will drop certain players at the defensive line into pass coverage and send others into a blitz.

This defensive scheme is what Aranda’s LSU defense worked on during their National Championship run, which was among the SEC’s best.

Texas is hosting one of the conference’s best defenses in Aranda’s Bears, and Steve Sarkisian and the Texas offense have their work cut out for them.