Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country
LSU edge rusher Arden Key rejoins the team on Monday.

LSU football: Arden Key is back, and LSU fans should (obviously) be happy

Nick Suss

Welcome to the Bayou Bengal Briefing, SEC Country’s daily morning column covering LSU football, with LSU beat writer Nick Suss. Today, we welcome Arden Key back to Baton Rouge, say goodbye to one of his former teammates, celebrate an LSU baseball sweep and much more. Enjoy!

Arden Key alert

The LSU football team announced Sunday night that All-America defensive end Arden Key will return to the Tigers on Monday after a nearly four-month long hiatus from the team kept him away from spring activities.

It goes without saying that this is a huge development for LSU. Key isn’t just the best player on the Tigers’ defense. He might be the best player in the SEC, regardless of side of the ball or position. His sack production over his first two seasons at LSU has been extraordinary, as he’s notched 17. By comparison, here’s how the SEC’s four first-round pass rushers from the most recent NFL draft fared over the same span:

  • Tennessee’s Derek Barnett: 23 sacks, 31.5 TFLs
  • Alabama’s Jonathan Allen: 23 sacks, 30.5 TFLs
  • Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett: 22 sacks, 34.5 TFLs
  • LSU’s Arden Key: 17 sacks, 21 TFLs
  • Missouri’s Charles Harris: 16 sacks, 30.5 TFLs

And they were upperclassmen and eventual first-round picks. Key was a freshman and a sophomore putting up comparable numbers.

The sack is the most valuable commodity in modern football; it’s a singular feat that completely changes the way an offense prepares its passing game. And LSU just got its sack master back. The past is the past.

Now, the only thing left for Key is the future.

Your weekly LSU football poll question

Let’s stay on topic for the LSU football poll question this week.

Last season, Key set the LSU football record with 12 sacks in a single season. Undoubtedly, he’ll be motivated to break his own record. So, how many sacks do you think he’ll make next season? Keep in mind: No player has made more than 20 sacks in a season dating back to 2005 and only 13 guys have had seasons with more than 15 sacks over that span.

Vote in the poll below. We’ll discuss your answers in the Bayou Bengal Briefing on Tuesday.

The Yang to Arden Key’s Yin

With Key returning to the fold, it’s only natural that the LSU football team had a departure Sunday night as well. Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Willie Allen announced his intent to transfer from LSU after one season with the team and a spring where he didn’t see much playing time.

A former 4-star prospect from John Curtis High School in New Orleans, Allen was the No. 10 prospect in Louisiana and No. 17 offensive tackle in the nation when he arrived at LSU in 2016. At nearly 6-foot-8 and more than 300 pounds, Allen has the size to compete anywhere in the nation, but his development apparently didn’t come along quick enough to see early playing time.

Allen had knee surgery last offseason that kept him out for all of his first freshman season and a significant chunk of the spring in 2017. Without Allen in the fold, LSU is left with five legitimate options at offensive tackle: K.J. Malone, Toby Weathersby, Maea Teuhema, Jakori Savage and Austin Deculus.

What a weekend for LSU baseball

The LSU baseball team swept the Baton Rouge Regional over the weekend, advancing to Super Regionals with wins against Texas Southern, Southeastern Louisiana and Rice.

In case you missed it, here’s a complete list of all the stories about the weekend that was. We’ll have more baseball content recapping the last three days and previewing the next week over the next few days, so stay posted for those updates.

Elsewhere in sports with diamonds

The LSU softball team’s 2017 season came to an end Saturday night with a Women’s College World Series loss to Oregon. SEC Country’s Mike Griffith was on the scene for the entirety of LSU’s WCWS run. Here’s all of the content you might’ve missed from him, plus a couple of pieces from LSU reporter Alex Hickey interspersed in there as well:

Numerology

Two stories about jersey numbers and the LSU football team cropped up Sunday.

First, Saturday Down South did a comprehensive ranking of all 99 jersey numbers and the best SEC football player to wear them. LSU won out on Nos. 3, 20, 25, 46, 66, 70, 72, 80, 84 and 94. Before you click the link test yourself to see how many of the numbers you can get right. Here’s hoping the answer is “all of them.”

Back in the present, incoming freshman linebacker Patrick Queen announced Sunday that he’ll wear the No. 8. Queen wore No. 8 in high school but was originally issued No. 13 at LSU. That said, with cornerback Saivion Smith announcing his intent to transfer from the program, Queen snagged the number away from his almost teammate.

LSU football tweets of the day

It was a busy day on the Twitter-sphere and we have many contenders for tweet of the day. Let’s start with two honorable mentions, then get to my No. 1 pick:

No. 3: Derrius Guice and D.J. Chark spar about K.D.

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant was a hot topic Sunday night after he logged 33 points and 13 rebounds in the Warriors’ Game 2 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

LSU wide receiver D.J. Chark doesn’t like Kevin Durant, apparently. Running back Derrius Guice does. Arguments ensue.

No. 2: Linebacker Tyler Taylor makes a bold guarantee

Freshman linebacker Tyler Taylor thinks he’s the best basketball player on the LSU football team. Multiple teammates disagree.

No. 1: Derrius Guice crushes Lindsey Scott on Madden

Skills don’t lie.

Today in made-up holidays

For some reason, Monday is “National Gingerbread Day.” I don’t know why we don’t celebrate this day in December. You know, when people eat gingerbread. But, nevertheless, Monday is the day.

Gingerbread is delicious. Everyone likes gingerbread. It’s great. So, if you can find some in the middle of friggin’ July, eat some. Or, if you’re a fan of cult teen action dramas, watch the spectacular episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer titled “Gingerbread,” which serves as a great commentary on mob mentality and comes smack dab in the middle of the best season of the show. (Come at me, Season 2 fans.)

Realistically, eating Gingerbread is probably your best bet. But Buffy is always a good option too.

Miss a previous edition of the Bayou Bengal Briefing? Find every one of SEC Country’s daily LSU football columns right here.

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