LSU stars Derrius Guice, Arden Key are getting hot at the perfect time

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Star power

Heading into this season, LSU running back Derrius Guice and outside linebacker Arden Key were supposed to be two of the best players in the SEC, if not the two best. Guice was a first-team All-SEC honoree coming off a season where he led the conference in rushing. Key was a preseason All-American coming off a year where he set the LSU single-season record for sacks.

2017 didn’t start as planned for the pair. Key missed the first two games of the season while he rehabbed from offseason shoulder surgery. When he returned, he stumbled with 0.5 sacks in his first four games. Guice got bitten by the injury bug later in the year, tweaking his knee versus Mississippi State and hobbling through three mediocre games in the next four weeks.

But Saturday, Guice and Key roared back. Guice rushed for 276 yards, becoming the first SEC player to rush for more than 250 yards in three different games. And Key made 2 sacks and 6 tackles with a forced fumble, following his game-winning sack against Auburn with his best performance of the season.

You know what’s next. Guice and Key are starting to play like the premier players they are, just in time for LSU to prepare for the premier team in the SEC. Yep. In two weeks, LSU plays Alabama. No. 1 Alabama. The team against which LSU fans judge the successes and failures of every season, making the last six seasons failures dating back to the 2012 Sugar Bowl.

It’s nearly impossible to foresee a way LSU stays competitive with Alabama, let alone beats the Tide, if Key and Guice aren’t at their best. Ole Miss was a big step toward that. But 2 sacks and 1 touchdown might not be enough in Tuscaloosa. Those stars are bright. But they’re going to need to burn brighter to upset the No. 1 team in the country.

Let’s compliment Danny Etling

Senior quarterback Danny Etling has caught flack for most of his tenure as LSU’s starter. He’s a game manager. He won’t be the guy to win you games. Coach Ed Orgeron and offensive coordinator Matt Canada should opt for the freshman, because he has a higher ceiling. You’ve heard all the complaints.

Etling is far from a perfect quarterback. A lot of the criticisms thrown his way are warranted. He hasn’t proven he can be accurate when under duress and he’s prone to making questionable decisions over the middle as he did versus Florida.

That said, here are a few stats worth noting about Etling:

  1. Etling’s passer efficiency rating of 156.56 is third best in the SEC and 17th best in the FBS. In the last 10 seasons, the only LSU quarterback with a better mark was Zach Mettenberger in 2013.
  2. Among Power 5 quarterbacks with at least 150 pass attempts this season, only Etling, Alabama’s Jalen Hurts, Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett and North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley have thrown one or fewer interceptions.
  3. Etling’s 9.4 yards per attempt rank seventh in the nation, ahead of reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and future top 10 picks Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold.

Is Etling a Heisman Trophy-caliber player? Absolutely not. He has his limitations, just like every other quarterback in the SEC. But let’s cool the talk about replacing him with Myles Brennan midseason. Etling is doing just fine for himself.

Bye week problems

LSU doesn’t have a football game this week. That stinks. Because football is good. But this doesn’t mean the Tigers won’t have anything going on. As best we know, here’s what you’ll have to look forward to this week:

  • LSU should practice at least three times this week: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Orgeron will likely speak to the media Tuesday afternoon after practice, while players should speak to the media Wednesday and possibly Thursday, too.
  • Alabama is on bye this week as well, so the Tide should be on a similar schedule. If you want updates on how Nick Saban’s squad is spending its bye week, head over to our Alabama page at
  • LSU basketball media day is Tuesday. Men’s coach Will Wade and women’s coach Nikki Fargas will both hold press conferences and practice will be open. The men’s team is preparing for an exhibition game against Tulane in eight days on Halloween night.

Polls, polls, polls

LSU is ranked in nearly every poll you can find. Here’s how the Tigers ranked out Sunday afternoon:

Jamal Adams dances, and the week in NFLSU

Jacksonville Jaguars running back and LSU legend Leonard Fournette missed action this week nursing an ankle injury. But Fournette isn’t the only former Tiger in the NFL. Here’s a recap of some of the week’s best NFLSU action:

  • Rookie safety Jamal Adams was everywhere for the New York Jets on Sunday. He finished the Jets’ loss to the Miami Dolphins with 7 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFLs, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Elsewhere in that game, Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne made 3 tackles and Dolphins defensive end Davon Godchaux made 1.
  • Buffalo Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White was hard on himself after allowing a late touchdown to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But White saved the day with a forced fumble and recovery with less than 3 minutes remaining to seal a Bills victory.
  • Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Brandon LaFell caught 4 passes for 28 yards and a touchdown in the Bengals’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Also in that game, Bengals running back Jeremy Hill carried 4 times for 7 yards.

Today in made-up holidays

According to the folks at, Oct. 23 is “ National TV Talk Show Host Day.” The holiday celebrates former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, who would’ve been 92 years old Monday.

But it’s not limited to Carson. Whether you prefer your Jimmy to be a Fallon or a Kimmel or you would rather listen to a Corden or a Conan, there’s no wrong answer in late-night television. I’ve been a huge talk show fan since I was in middle school and still watch most of them religiously, albeit on YouTube the next morning.

Still, there’s one talk show I miss more than any other. So, on Monday, let’s remember the brilliance of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. Because, c’mon, no one was better or more self-deprecating than this guy.

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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