Wisconsin Badgers Defense Excels Under Dave Aranda


In the third year since Dave Aranda brought his 3-4 defensive scheme to Wisconsin, the Badgers continue to have one of the best defensive teams in all of college football.

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Perhaps the biggest question after Gary Andersen stunned Wisconsin with his decision to bail for Oregon State last December was whether the Badgers would retain its defensive coordinator.

Paul Chryst was hired as the head coach, and the first person he spoke to when configuring his new staff was Aranda, who came to Wisconsin with Andersen from Utah State.

When Aranda decided he would be the lone assistant to stay in Madison, Badger fans knew that the defense would remain in good hands.

In Aranda’s first two seasons in charge of the defense, the Badgers have allowed 299.4 yards per game, which quietly ranks third among FBS teams in that span.

Through seven games in Aranda’s third year with Wisconsin, the Badgers’ defense ranks among the best in the country once again and is statistically even better than last year’s unit. Wisconsin ranks third in points allowed per game (10.9) and seventh in yards allowed per game (272.3).

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  • The Badgers’ defense gets off the field quickly, as they rank eighth in first downs allowed per game with 15, which is important with how the offense has underperformed this year.

    Traditional Wisconsin Badgers football is always expected to have a great running game, but that has not been the case this season. Melvin Gordon is gone, and Corey Clement has yet to play a full game as he recovers from sports hernia surgery. The Badgers have been forced to beat teams with Joel Stave’s arm, which has produced mixed results.

    Wisconsin’s offense has also been helped by the defense’s performance in the red zone, which ranks No. 3 in the country.

    Wisconsin has received dominant performances from veterans like senior Joe Schobert, who is making a case for the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Schobert has spent a lot of time in the opponents’ backfield with 9.5 sacks and 14.5 tackles for loss, which both rank second in the country. He is also tied for second with four forced fumbles.

    Some of the younger players on the Badgers’ roster have also made a great impact, especially in the heart of the defense. Redshirt freshman inside linebacker T.J. Edwards leads the team with 54 total tackles and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his 16-tackle performance during Saturday’s 24-7 victory over Purdue.

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    Edwards’ fellow inside linebacker Chris Orr is one of the few true freshmen on Wisconsin’s roster to see any game action. Orr stepped into the lineup during the second possession against Troy on Sept. 19 when Leon Jacobs was ejected for targeting, and the freshman took control as the starter after totaling 14 tackles in relief. The Badgers’ inside linebackers are going to be solid for the next 3 1/2 years.

    In addition to being the defensive coordinator, Aranda also works as the inside linebackers coach.

    Make no mistake about it. Aranda staying was more important than Andersen leaving. Aranda may not be the most popular assistant as far as national attention, and Badger fans would like to stay that way. As long as Aranda is in charge of the Wisconsin defense, the Badgers will continue to rank among the top defensive units in all of college football.

    Next: Photos: Badgers vs. Boilermakers