A lot of things are going to feel strange on Saturday afternoon. Playing at Lambeau Field will have that affect, but nothing will be stranger for Wisconsin players and coaches than looking across the field and seeing former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda wearing the purple and gold of the LSU Tigers.
With eight returning starters and a wide array of highlyÂ coveted prospects, LSUâ€™s defense was probably already going to be good. Adding Dave Aranda, who turned Wisconsinâ€™s defense into one of the most dominant defenses in college football, makes them downright filthy.
*(2015 season stats/honors)
DE:Â Lewis Neal - Sr. (6-2, 272) â€”Â 12 games started,Â 48 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 8 sacks, 6 breakups, 1 forced fumble
NT:Â Greg Gilmore - Jr. (6-4, 308) â€” 1 game started, 13 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 sack
DE:Â Godchaux - Jr. (6-4, 299) â€” 12 games started, 41 tackles, 9 TFL, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble
OLB:Â Michael Divinity Jr. - Fr. (6-3, 234) â€” 5th ranked OLB in Class of 2016
ILB: Kendell Beckwith - Sr. (6-3, 247) â€” 12 games started.Â 84 tackles, 10 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 2 Forced Fumbles
ILB: Duke Riley - Sr. (6-0, 230) â€” No starts in 2015, 24 tackles, .5 TFL
OLB: Arden Key - So. (6-6, 238) â€” 9 gamesÂ started, 41 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 5 sacks, 9 QB hits
CB: Treâ€™Davious White - Sr. (6-0, 197) â€” 11 games started, 44 tackles, 7 breakups
SS: Jamal Adams - Jr. (6-1, 213) â€” 12 games started, 67 tackles, 5 TFL, 4 interceptions, 6 breakups, 10 passes defended, 1 forced fumble
FS: Ricky Jefferson - Sr. (6-0, 209) â€” 9 games started, 36 tackles, 1 sacks, 1 interception, 4 passes defended
CB:Â Kevin Tolvier - So. (6-2, 193) â€” 8 games started, 35 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 interception, 6 passes defended
LSU Defensive Stats and Rankings:
(2015 Stat/SEC/National)Â *according to CFBstats.com
Total Defense: 347.2 YPG (5th/25th)
Scoring Defense: 24.2 PPG (10th/41st)
Passing Defense: 122.9 YPG (12th/17th)
Rushing Defense: 224.3 YPG (3rd/65th)
3 Keys For Wisconsinâ€™s Offense
Get creative with the play calling:Â LSUâ€™s defense is going to be extremely tough to move the ball on, especially with a first-year starting quarterback. In order to have any chance of scoring points, Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph need to add in a few wrinkles. For example, play actions and shots down the field on first downs and well-timed screens to use Arandaâ€™s aggressive blitzing against him. If Aranda and LSUâ€™s defense gets comfortable, it is ball game over for the Badgers. Wisconsin needs to keep them off balance and on their toes with aggressive, creative play calling.
Establish the rushing attack early and often:Â Bart Houston has the arm strength and raw talent to be a solid quarterback. Unfortunately, playing against Arandaâ€™s freakishÂ blitzesÂ and four returning secondary starters isnâ€™t an ideal first start for him. Itâ€™s hard to imagine him moving the chains often against the LSU defense. So Wisconsin must feed Corey Clement, and he must produce. He told ESPNâ€™s Jesse Temple that he believes he is as good as Leonard Fournette and Dalvin Cook. He needs to back up his talk with an outstanding performance for the Badgers to have a chance.
Take care of the football:Â This should go without saying, but if Wisconsin loses the turnover battle, they will lose the game.Â Houston needs to make good decisions and take care of the ball. He canâ€™t do what he did against Illinois last season, throwing two goal-line interceptions. In a game like this where every possession counts, Wisconsin canâ€™t afford to gift wrap LSU the ball. Once might be okay. Two is trouble. Three turnovers? Just get back on the bus, because the game is over.