Derrius Guice is not fully healthy, and it could remain that way for a while, coach Ed Orgeron suggested Monday.
LSU’s star tailback is battling a “nagging injury” that’s preventing him from practicing at full speed, he said, but the Baton Rouge native is “getting better.”
Guice missed stretches of the 17-16 win at Florida last Saturday, resting on the sideline and giving way to fellow running back Darrel Williams for several drives at a time. He ran 17 times for 50 yards, a 2.9-yard average that’s well below his career rushing average. Guice had a long run of 8 yards.
“Is he hurting? Yes. Is he limited right now? Yes. But he is getting better,” Orgeron said Monday.
Specifics of the injury or injuries have not been revealed, but the junior and preseason All-American appeared to hurt his left knee late in the third quarter at Mississippi State. Before last week’s game, he had missed about half of the first five games.
Halfway through the regular season, he sits at 364 yards rushing — about 26 percent of his total last season of 1,387 yards. Since the loss to the Bulldogs, Guice has carried 25 times for just 64 yards and one touchdown, completely missing the loss to Troy.
“In order to play full speed, especially against an SEC team like Florida, you have to practice full speed,” Orgeron said. “And he's been in practice, but he's been limited.”
Williams is limited, too, having suffered an ankle injury against the Trojans. Both running backs practiced Monday, a walk-through indoors in which players do not don pads.
Orgeron on Monday pointed to an 8-yard run in the fourth quarter against the Gators as an example of Guice’s potential, despite the injury.
“I do believe that one of the last runs — and I'm going to show him this — one of the last runs, in the last drive, where he ran up right in the middle, and he showed grit and he showed toughness and he showed LSU football, broke a couple of tackles, was a sign that he can do it,” the coach said. “And I think it gave him confidence and it gave our whole team confidence. So hopefully we can see more of that.”
Christian LaCouture’s father planned to make a special delivery to the LSU defensive end Monday.
Orgeron: Key hits 255 pounds
Junior edge rusher Arden Key has hit his target weight goal and is improving, Orgeron said, but the statistics have yet to come.
Key, the preseason All-American, is down to 255 pounds from 270, a higher number than the coach had previously revealed about the school’s single-season record holder. Key made one tackle in the win over the Gators. He’s got 10 tackles and a half sack through four games.
“He had his best practice last week. Now, I think he's down to 255 as opposed to 270. And we were watching film from the first game he played to this game, you can tell the weight's going down,” said Orgeron, who previously put Key’s weight at 265. “His pass rush needs to get better. It's not where it needs to be. But he's trying his butt off now. The guy is a team player. He wants to do well.”
Key missed spring practice while on a leave of absence and was recovering from May shoulder surgery during summer work. He slowly recovered from the injury, finally getting cleared for contact a week before his first game against Mississippi State.