Don’t be surprised if LSU is without its best defensive player in its season-opening game vs. BYU.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Thursday that he doesn’t expect defensive end Arden Key to play vs. the Cougars on Sept. 2. Key had surgery on his left shoulder in May.
“Nah, I don’t think so,” Orgeron said about Key being available via The Advocate. “I’m not sure, but I’m not expecting it. But nothing that dude does surprises me. He’s going to go to his doctor next week and we should know pretty soon when he’s going to play.”
Key took a leave of absence from football in February. He rejoined the team in June not long after he had surgery.
LSU’s defense can’t afford a lengthy absence from Key. He had 12 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss in 2016. Those 12 sacks were a third of LSU’s team total and, perhaps most importantly, leaves LSU without a proven pass rusher. For a game, at least.
Without Key, LSU’s leading returning sack leaders had a sack apiece in 2016. Yes, just one.
Key is one of just five starters returning on the Tiger defense, which must replace safety Jamal Adams and linebackers Duke Riley and Kendall Beckwith. Those three players were LSU’s top three tacklers a season ago.
LSU is at No. 11 in our preseason top 25. If Key’s absence is more than a game, LSU faces Chattanooga in Week 2 before playing Mississippi State to open conference play on Sept. 16.
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