Lane Kiffin delivered high praise to LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda.
On Thursday, the former Tennessee coach and Alabama offensive coordinator spoke to SEC Country and was asked about the toughest defensive coordinator he faced in the SEC. The current Florida Atlantic coach was quick to name Aranda, who finished his second season at LSU last year after arriving from Wisconsin.
“Dave Aranda, for sure,” Kiffin told SEC Country. “I’ve always struggled with him. One time, we had him at Wisconsin [with] Alabama, and we had a really big day. But [in 2016] when we played LSU against him, we struggled. He has always done a great job wherever he is, with different types of players and different types of places. The good coaches do it at a lot of different places.”
Kiffin went 7-6 as Tennessee’s coach in the 2009 season. He also was Alabama’s offensive coordinator from 2014-16. He helped lift Alabama to a 35-17 rout of Wisconsin in September 2015, but the Crimson Tide were contained offensively in their 10-0 victory against LSU in November 2016 in Baton Rouge.
“Whatever he does, they’re so hard to run the ball against,” Kiffin said of Aranda. “It has always been that way wherever he has been.”
LSU recognizes the asset it has in Aranda’s defensive mind. The assistant turned down offers from Texas A&M in January, and he was awarded a healthy bump in pay with a four-year contract that pays him $2.5 million per year.
Keeping Aranda on LSU’s staff was a major victory for coach Ed Orgeron as he tries to make the Tigers a contender in the SEC West. Last season, LSU finished 9-4 and lost to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl.
It’s unclear if Kiffin and Aranda will cross paths again soon. Kiffin is coming off a successful debut season with the Owls, who went 11-3 last year as they became an instant force in Conference USA. But it’s obvious Kiffin respects the skills shown by Aranda over time.