AUBURN | So far this season, Arden Key hasn’t put up the numbers expected from the LSU first-team All-American outside linebacker. And Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is hoping that continues for one more week.
“Arden Key is one of the dynamic players defensively in our league and you can tell that he’s starting to get in shape and is starting to really play,” Malzahn said.
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Key missed LSU’s spring practice due to personal reasons and missed the first two games of this season for what was reportedly an offseason shoulder procedure.
LSU coach Ed Orgeron told reporters this week Key had gotten his weight down from 270 to 255 and was starting to play like he did as a sophomore when he set the school record with 12 sacks.
“Nobody needs to point him out. We're all going to know where he's at,” Malzahn said. “I think it's just part of dealing with an impact player. Schematically, you've got to do the best you can to not give your guys a disadvantage or give them an advantage. You've got to play football. We'll know where he's at but you've got to put a plan together.”
Key has just 10 tackles, 0.5 tackles-for-loss, 0.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries in four games this fall. Against Auburn last season, he had seven tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three quarterback hurries.
No. 10 Auburn, which gave up 14 sacks in the first two games including 11 at Clemson, has only given up five in the last four games. If Auburn is able to start the same offensive line from the last two games, it will be senior Austin Golson at left tackle with the responsibility of blocking Key on most plays.
“We do have to look at tendencies. But every rep, you've got to assume he's coming, because you've got to be on your A-game. If you're not, then it's probably not going to be good for you,” Golson said.
Kickoff at Tiger Stadium is set for 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS. Auburn hasn’t won at LSU since 1999.