LOGAN — Utah State football head coach Gary Andersen named Dave Aranda as USU's new defensive coordinator on Tuesday.
"I'm very excited for the opportunity to be able to coach with Coach Andersen and his staff. I have a great deal of respect for Utah State football, they play a hard, physical style of football and I believe it is an up-and-coming program that I'm proud and very happy to be a part of it. I want to do whatever it takes to get us to the next level," Aranda said.
Aranda comes to USU after four years at Hawai'i, the last two spent as the Warriors' defensive coordinator after coaching UH's defensive line the first two years. Last year's Hawai'i defense led the Western Athletic Conference and was tied for 15th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in sacks with 35 (2.7 pg), led by linebacker Art Laurel who ranked third in the WAC and tied for 24th in the nation with nine sacks.
"We were looking for a talented coach with defensive coordinator experience and we have found that with Dave Aranda. He was mentored by former Hawai'i head coach Greg McMackin who has an excellent track record defensively. Dave's defenses speak for themselves with the numbers and talented players they have. Last season alone, three seniors from Aranda's defense have been invited to various senior all-star games. Coach Aranda's defenses are fundamentally sound and are excellent technicians. His defenses consistently play hard and at an extremely high-level," Andersen said. "We are excited to have him and his family be a part of our Aggie football family."
Aranda comes to USU highly recommended by his former mentor, McMackin.
"Dave did such a great job for me. He is one of my favorite assistants. When I first met him at Texas Tech I could tell that he was going to be a great coach. When I got the head job at Hawai'i, he was one of the first guys I called. I've always been a defensive coordinator and after I realized that I couldn't still coordinate the defense and be the head coach, I was real nervous about giving Dave my 'baby,' but he did a great job and took so much weight off my shoulders," McMackin said.
Under McMackin at Hawai'i, in addition to Laurel, Aranda also coached two-time all-WAC honoree Corey Paredes and 2011 all-WAC linebacker Aaron Brown.. In 2010 Paredes had the second-highest single-season tackles total in school history with 151 stops. Aranda also coached defensive lineman David Veikune, an NFL second-round draft pick.
"He's a grinder. He'll be the first guy to the office and the last guy to leave. The players love to play for him, he gets them fired up and ready to play. They'll like him because he treats them like men. I have nothing but great things to say about him. I have known Gary for a long time since we coached together at Utah for Ron McBride and consider him a good friend, so I'm really happy that Coach Andersen and Coach Aranda get to coach together. I'm just thrilled," McMackin said.
Aranda said that Andersen and his staff's experience played a large in his decision to accept this position.
"I think there is a lot of experience here with the defensive staff and that was a big plus when looking at this job. I can bring some different ideas that will mesh with the ideas that are here. I think there will be a lot of different hand writing up on the white board with ideas from everyone, which is a very good thing," Aranda said.
In 2010, Aranda's Hawai'i defense led the nation in turnovers caused (38) while ranking second in the nation in interceptions (23) and ninth in fumbles recovered (15), while also tying the school record for most defensive touchdowns with five.
"I think our schemes fit well with each other as far as where we have been in the past and what we have done defensively. He is extremely organized and a quality leader. Anytime you look for a new coach, the number one priority is to put the kids first and Dave does a tremendous job of that," Andersen said. "Spending four years in Hawaii, he has developed lots a ties there that will be a great asset to us in continuing to recruit in Hawaii and recruit Polynesian kids. He has a great track record as a great recruiter and we'll get him on the road right away and help us sign some players for the upcoming signing period."
Andersen noted that Aranda's familiarity with the WAC during his time at Hawai'i will also be beneficial.
"The dynamic of the WAC has changed, but the fact that he is familiar with the conference and he understands the level and quality of play within the WAC is a very valuable resource. He knows the types of players to recruit to play in this conference which is a big advantage for us and puts us even more so on the same page," Andersen said.
Aranda takes over the reins of a USU defense that led the WAC and ranked 50th in FBS in total defense (366.2 ypg) in 2011, as well as ranking second in the league and 31st in the nation in rushing defense (127.8 ypg) as well as third in the conference and 76th in the country in passing defense (238.5 ypg).
Prior to being defensive coordinator, Aranda, a native of Redlands, Calif., coached the UH defensive line, helping put together game plans throughout the season, including the Warriors' 24-17 win over Navy, in which Hawai'i held the Midshipmen's vaunted rushing attack to 248 yards and scoreless in the second half.
In 2008, Aranda coached a unit that included David Veikune, Joshua Leonard, and all-WAC second team pick Keala Watson. Veikune was taken in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns with the 52nd overall pick, while Leonard signed as a free agent with the Houston Texans.
Prior to UH, Aranda coached at Delta State University in 2007, where he served as co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach in 2007. Following the season, he signed on to become Southern Utah's defensive coordinator for new head coach Ed Lamb and was on the job for one month before head coach Greg McMackin called and asked Aranda to join the UH staff. In one year at Delta State, Aranda helped the school win the Gulf South Conference and lead the NCAA Division II in pass efficiency defense, was second in total and scoring defense, and third in run defense.
Before DSU, Aranda spent two years as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at his alma mater, California Lutheran, where the Kingsmen led the conference in scoring defense and total defense. It was his second go-around with CLU after serving as an assistant from 1996-99, while finishing his degree.
From 2002-03, Aranda was the linebackers coach at the University of Houston. Prior to that, he was a graduate assistant at Texas Tech and was mentored by then-defensive coordinator McMackin. The Red Raiders competed in three bowls during his tenure (2000 GalleryFurniture.com Bowl, 2001 Alamo Bowl and 2002 Tangerine Bowl). At TTU, Aranda coached Aaron Hunt, who finished as the Big 12's all-time sack leader.
After he graduated from Redlands High School in 1994, numerous surgeries followed and ended his playing career. In 1995, he started his coaching resume at Redlands as an assistant coach. Aranda graduated from Cal Lutheran in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in philosophy. In 2002, he earned his master's degree in interdisciplinary studies at Texas Tech.
Aranda and his wife, Dione, have two daughters, Jaelyn and Jordyn, and a son, Ronin.Comment on this story
Utah State posted a historic season with a 7-6 record, its first seven-win season since 1993, capping its season with the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, losing to Ohio in a 24-23 thriller. Five of USU's losses were by one score or less, and 10 of the Aggies' games were decided by one score this season which are the most in the nation.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball or on the USU football blog at usufootball.wordpress.com. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics.