Each week, SEC Country heads into the film room to reveal what happened on Saturday.
The silver lining in LSU’s gut-wrenching loss to Auburn was the play of sophomore outside linebacker Arden Key.
Key leads the nation in sacks with 6.5 in four games. He ranks second in the SEC with 7 tackles for loss, behind only Mississippi State’s A.J. Jefferson.
Key broke through with 6 tackles in the last-second loss to Auburn, including 1.5 for loss and 1.5 sacks. One of the sacks was a strip-sack, which led to an offensive score, which are hard to come by in Baton Rouge.
Let’s take a closer look at Key’s outstanding outing from Saturday.
As OLB, Key dominates the edge without a LT
On first-and-10 early in the first quarter, LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda sent two of his three linebackers — Duke Riley and Key — on a blitz. Key, coming off the strong side as a stand-up outside linebacker, doesn’t draw the attention of Auburn’s left tackle, an obvious miscue, and is supposed to be contained by the two backs in the formation.
Key is a mismatch for most SEC left tackles, let alone a running back. Key has too much speed for the up-back to even get a hand on him, then he bulldozes the tailback en route to the half-sack of Sean White.
Key applies back-side pressure
On third-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Aranda opts to play it safe. The truth is with Key, that’s a possibility.
As opposed to the previous play, Key is on the weak side of this play. Again, he’s the lone rusher as the only outside linebacker in the formation. Key again does not draw the attention of any Auburn offensive lineman or a block from a wide receiver or running back. He takes full advantage, applying instant pressure on White as the QB rolls to his left.
Key’s pressure allows defensive end Davon Godchaux to fight off his blocker and, in due time, race toward White for the eventual sack. Key deserves credit for assisting Godchaux’s play, which ultimately forced an Auburn field goal instead of possibly putting 7 on the scoreboard.
Strip-sack gives LSU much-needed turnover, opportunity for offense
This time, Auburn’s left tackle is well aware of Key coming off the edge. LSU is in the same base formation with three down linemen and three linebackers, Key the lone one lined up on the edge.
Key draws the attention of the left tackle, who is able to re-route him just enough. The difference: Key’s length, which allows him to strip White as he attempts a throw and leads to a fumble.
Godchaux is the first to pounce on it and recover for LSU, situating the offense in the red zone right away at the 16-yard line.
For an LSU offense that had squandered opportunities consistently, it’s a gift-wrapped situation to get at least 3 points or more thanks to Key’s assertiveness. Even with the attention of Auburn’s best pass-blocker, it wasn’t enough to keep Key from impacting the game. His speed and length are near-unblockable, which keyed his 1.5 sacks and the turnover he forced in the game.
All ratings are from the 247Sports composite rankings unless otherwise noted.
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