MADISON - New defensive coordinator Dave Aranda joined ESPNWisconsin during the Gary Andersen classic this past week. We got his take on the teams’ offseason progress, player ran practices and a learning experience with Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers.
Below is a transcribed version of the interview
Q: After playing against him last year, and seeing him on film this year, how exciting is it to coach a guy like Chris Borland who puts in so much work on and off the field?
It is (exciting) I am very good friends with coach Andy Buh, he and I have come up together in coaching and I spent a lot of time studying with him. I remember last year just in speaking to coach Buh, how he would speak on (Borland) and the praise he would lay on him. Now I am able to experience it myself. We are in the middle of practicing, our players are holding their own practices and they’re going to do that all summer long as part of conditioning. (Borland) is running the practices, so he is the defensive coordinator right now in terms of getting guys lined up and making adjustments. It’s a new defense for him too and he has taken that leadership role and guys are responding to him. To me it’s a positive thing. I am thankful that we have Chris Borland on our side.
How has the defensive transition been going, moving from the 4-3 defense to a multiple defensive back look?
It has been good. We played a lot in spring with our younger kind of reserves and up-and-coming players. They played well and they have earned themselves spots in terms of a redshirt freshman playing here or a true freshman playing there, at the corner spot imparticualr. Now we are getting some of our veteran guys back and now it is getting them acclimated, getting them adjusted to what we ask out of our defense. We are installing as the summer goes so when we start fall camp we will have 15 defenses ready to roll on day one because we are treating summer like fall camp. We are installing defenses right now in voice over format: so lets say the coaches have already looked at film from spring, have talked it through, coached it up, it has been recorded so the players are coming in three days throughout the week and watching, getting the lesson of the defense that is installed. Those are the rules, we can’t be in the same room but our voices can. That’s how we are doing it. There are 20 defenses that are being installed, and then when they are installed, with (Borland) and everyone they are practicing 7-on-7, blitz periods and everything else. It is as if we are in spring ball or fall camp now as far as the players running it and the coaches off to the side as a voice over format only. Any advantage we can do within the rules then we are going to do it and that is what we are doing.
Do you work with strength and conditioning coach Evan Simon on particular players? Are there certain players that you want to gain or lose weight depending on position changes in the new defense?
Very much so, I think Sojourn is a good example in terms of putting on weight and then you got other guys like an Ethan Armstrong who is going to be in space a little bit more because we have him in an outside linebacker spot, a field outside backer, that is kind of strong safety outside linebacker hybrid guy. I think he fits that spot really well. Brenden Kelly is another one, who is back from injury along with Ethan, and Brenden is going to be a boundary outside linebacker so he is going to be in a two-point as opposed to having his hand on the ground. He will be rushing primarily but there will be times when he has to drop so footwork drills with him and some movement and agility things will benefit him. Coach (Simon) is getting those things done.
A few weeks ago you were in Green Bay working with Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers, you taught him a few things about how to pick up the read option but what did you pick up from Capers who is a real student of the game?
I wanted to learn the 3-4 (defense) so when I went up there initially I had full access to the film and was able to look at certain things. What is new for me is what our offense does here at Wisconsin to be honest with you, the two-backs, the tight end, the pro-sets, the 13-personnel, the two-tight ends and everything else. What I have been going against for however many years is the spread, the pistol, the zone-read, the triple-option, the horizontal throw game and everything that is new for them. What’s an old habit for them is kind of new for me here. It was kind of going that way with it so early on I wanted to see what kind of things you can do versus a slot, when people max-protect you and get two people out, trying to isolate your corners when there is a freshman playing over there. What do you do and what do you like? He was able to help me with that. (Capers) wanted to know about the pistols, the reads and how to leverage some things, what are some pressures that you like. We’ve had a lot of experience with that and we were able to share some things with that. It was a fun experience, (Capers) is a great person, just a really warm-hearted guy. I’ve always wanted to get out there. When I was at Hawaii they always spoke really highly of him, he was one of their favorite sons of that place. They look at him as a local guy but I could never get the flight from Honolulu to Green Bay. That was one of the things, when this came up there are so many great things about this job but in my mind it was I could get to go to Green Bay so it was a cool thing.
Dezmen Southward is a guy you are doing some really interesting things with, what does a guy with talent like his allow you to do on defense?
He is our best athlete on the backend. We have to be able to utilize him to maximize his spot. There are a lot of plusses when plusses you’re the best athlete back there. The negatives that you have to fight or guard against are the overload, playing the safety spot, playing the nickel spot, and at times playing the corner technique. There is a lot that goes into it, so far, and obviously this is early in the game, he has been great that way in terms of learning it and applying it. We will go as he will allow us to go because athletically and want-to wise he can absorb it all. He is a weapon out there for us so the more we can feature him the better off we are going to be.
T.J Reynard was a late addition as a cornerback out of junior college. What did you see in him that allowed you to bring him into this program and bring competition?
He has some good length to him and he is fast. That was the biggest thing, as simple as you can put it he is a fast kid. He shows a lot of range in terms of making plays on the ball and has good ball skills when the ball is up in the air. He will hit you. When you watch his highlight tape he is playing safety and he is striking people. We are going to put him at corner to start, we hope he can add to that position group and give it some depth that will make us stronger. I think that is the focal point right now is to build up that outside corner spot to where we can play man coverage and take that man coverage into whatever stadium and to whoever comes in here. We are going to play man coverage and that’s going to be either a major part of what we are doing or a change-up but it is going to be apart of our arsenal. I think (Reynard) allows us to do that.
Download the JumpAround podcast featuring coach Aranda here.
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