LSU and Mississippi St. are both currently 2-0 and sit atop the SEC west alongside Alabama and Ole Miss. This matchup begins the annual ritual of each SEC West team slaughtering each other as they try to take down Alabama and make the SEC championship.
LSU’s defensive end Arden Key enters this game as a key match-up against Mississippi St. He will finally be back on the field after missing the spring due to personal reasons. He also did not participate in fall camp nor the first two weeks of the season due to a shoulder injury. Despite the off-field concern, NDT Scouting’s staff ranked Arden Key as a top defensive lineman on the Preseason All-Draft Eligible Team.
Key’s length and ability to bend the edge makes him a pass rushing weapon. After recording 12 sacks last season, Key was acknowledged by scouts such as our very own Joe Marino, who said:
“Key is a long, explosive, flexible pass rusher who offers top of the first-round traits.” After missing considerable time, it is questionable whether Arden Key will enter this ready to roll or rusty.
The heart of Mississippi State’s RPO (run/pass option) offense is ran through 6’5” 230 lbs. QB Nick Fitzgerald. Undoubtedly, Fitzgerald and Mississippi State’s RPO offense will use the entire width of the field to test Arden’s conditioning. Last season, Fitzgerald averaged 7.1 yards per carry and was second behind only Derrius Guice in the number of explosive runs over 25 yards.
Fitzgerald and the Bulldog option offense will look to create advantageous angles by isolating the LSU’s defensive ends, including Key. Look for the Bulldogs to attack Arden Key right away to gauge his fluidity and conditioning. If Key shows patience and then uses his length to make tackles on the ball carrier, Fitzgerald and the Bulldogs will have to isolate another defender or look to pass more.
However, LSU has two talented defensive backs in Kevin Tolliver and Donte Jackson that should be able to hold up against Mississippi state’s wide receivers in man coverage. Therefore, this game will be decided one of two ways: Fitzgerald carrying the Bulldogs to victory upon his back or Arden Key and the LSU defense putting Fitzgerald on his back.