Arden Key’s final play last week could be a sign of things to come for LSU.
A more confident and better conditioned Key has shown progress in recent weeks as he lost roughly 20 pounds following his return from off-season shoulder surgery, LSU coach Ed Orgeron said Thursday.
That will be something to watch at 6:15 p.m. Saturday when No. 24 LSU (5-2, 2-1 SEC) plays at Ole Miss (3-3, 1-2).
“Now you see a confident Arden Key going out there,” Orgeron said. “I think the conditioning and him losing 20 pounds made the difference.”
An overweight and sluggish Key tallied one half-sack over his first four games back from shoulder surgery that caused him to miss the first two games, but his fourth-down sack in the final minutes against Auburn last week sealed the 27-23 comeback win at Tiger Stadium.
That electric kind of play continued into practice this week, Orgeron said.
“I love it when I see him like I saw him at practice,” Orgeron said. “Working hard, getting after it. Arden is electric. Arden has a contagious personality. When he’s on, the whole team is on.”
Key last season set a single-season school record for sacks wth 12, and the sack last week raised his college career total to 18.5.
His past play earned him preseason All-America accolades during the offseason, but not participating in spring drills his leave from the team for what the school said were “personal reasons” and the subsequent shoulder procedure caused his weight to balloon.
Orgeron again Thursday said the 6-foot-6 Key weighed in the 270-pound range before his recent weight loss to around 250.
“He wasn’t the same player, obviously,” Orgeron said. “The stamina wasn’t there. He wasn’t used to hitting. … You have shoulder surgery, it takes a while to get confident.”
Ole Miss has the SEC’s leading passer in quarterback Shea Patterson, who has 17 touchdown passes against six interceptions.
“I think the teams have have done well agains them had great pass rush and great coverage,” Orgeron said. “And run the football on offense and keep the ball away from them.”
Recent weight loss has Arden Key playing more like his old self for LSU, Ed Orgeron says