Wisconsin Football: Five Reasons the Badgers Have the Best Defense in the Country

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Defensive coordinator Dave Aranda walks off the field after a timeout against Purdue. Jim Oxley photo

Dave Aranda

It all starts with the man in charge. Wisconsin has benefited by the excellent defensive mind of Aranda, who continues to prove to be one of the best young coordinators in the nation. In his third year in Madison teaching his 3-4 scheme, Wisconsin ranks among the best in the country in most major categories in college football.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Aranda has been an extraordinary defensive coordinator for the Badgers, and it does not seem to matter who is on the field for Wisconsin for his system to operate efficiently. In his first year with the program, Aranda’s unit finished seventh in total defense. It was quite a debut season, but the defense’s performance was even more impressive in 2014 when Wisconsin needed to replace eight starters on defense, including the entire front seven.

Aranda’s group responded with an even better season defensively, finishing the year fourth in total defense. Through nine games in 2015, Wisconsin has the third-best unit in terms of total defense. The defense continues to get better each year under Aranda.

Aranda has enjoyed success everywhere he has coached as a defensive coordinator even before Wisconsin. In his lone season as the leader of the Division II Delta College defense in 2007, the team ranked second in scoring and total defense. As Hawaii’s defensive coordinator in 2010, the Rainbow Warriors forced a NCAA-most 35 turnovers, and the team led the conference in sacks with 35 in 2011.

In 2012, Aranda’s Utah State team allowed just 15.4 points per game, the eighth-least in the country before leaving for Madison with Gary Andersen.

When Andersen bolted for Oregon State last December, the most important part of his departure came when head coach Paul Chryst announced the program would retain Aranda, who was the first person Chryst spoke to when configuring his staff. Aranda was the only assistant to stay with the Badgers when Andersen left.

Aranda has been in the news recently for head coaching positions, including Minnesota and Hawaii. He did interview for Wisconsin’s head coaching job prior to Chryst being hired. Fans should enjoy Aranda’s tutelage while it lasts because he should have his opportunities.

Next: Joe Schobert