Kehoe's OL in its infancy

Art Kehoe, the new OL coach at Ole Miss, apologized for "jumping all over the place" in a recent interview, but with all there is to do in the next few months, and excited as he is about getting to those tasks, there is little he can talk about specifically at this juncture of the process. Read about it inside.

When Art Kehoe enters a room, his vibrant personality and enthusiasm for what he is doing kind of takes over.

It is hard for him to focus on a specific answer to a specific question because his mind is bouncing off the walls as well.

"I am so excited about where I am and what I am doing, but there are really no answers right now," he began. "I have been able to watch a little film of the returning offensive linemen and I have a few thoughts on them and what we will be trying to accomplish here in the next few months and in the long term, but I may jump around a little with my answers."

We asked Kehoe the difference in the schemes the Rebels ran last year and the schemes they will run in 2006.

"I haven't really spent a lot of time breaking down the differences in the schemes. That really doesn't matter a lot because the same types of athletes can be successful with what they did last year and what we will be doing this year. What little film I've watched has been more of a personnel evaluation to try and get to know my guys individually as much as I can before spring training more than anything else," Kehoe said. "Our schemes are similar, but we will run more gap than zone blocking.

"We used both at Miami and will use both here some, but gap blocking will be our primary scheme. In gap blocking, as simply as I can word it, you create a hole by creating seams for the back to run through. In zone blocking, your linemen cover up defenders and the backs read the holes and the cutbacks. In the Super Bowl, Pittsburgh ran a gap scheme on their 75-yard TD run by (Willie) Parker. They blocked down, kicked a defender out, the back had a clean hole or seam and was gone. On their reverse pass for a TD, that was a zone scheme and it worked to perfection as well."

Kehoe said the passing game works off the running game, somewhat.

"Off of our run formations, we run our play-action stuff, we can have three-step drops for the quick-passing game, and we can have straight dropback," he continued. "It's all about how you package your scheme. What we will try to do is disguise a fairly simple running game and passing game with a lot of motions, shifts and personnel groupings. You have to keep defenses thinking. They see our formation and make a check, then we send someone in motion and they have to check out of that to something else.

"It's all about checks and balances. The more you can force a defense to check into something else, the more confusion you can create. We will keep everything fairly simple up front as well, but we package it with shifts, motions, personnel groupings and so on."

Kehoe said the ultimate goal, however, is to just run right at people and be good enough to get it done.

"Pittsburgh is a prime example. The Super Bowl was tight and Seattle was still in it, but the Steelers said 'here we come, stop us if you can.' Pitt ran safe passes and just smashed Seattle in the face to eat up most of the last six minutes of the game," Kehoe explained. "That is my kind of football. Smash the ball right at people, but we realize we aren't good enough yet - talent-wise - to do that a lot. We will ram it down people's throats when we get good enough to do that, but for now we will have to rely on our guile and wits to a certain extent."

Kehoe said he was not knocking our players in the least, but it is what it is.

"Our talent is young and our talent is thin up front," he stated, "but we can get the job done with what I have seen on film. We have so much to do it is ridiculous, but we are going to get after it and get it done."

Art had some brief comments on some of the returning players on the offensive line.

"Again, I am speaking about these kids from just watching a little bit of film and from not ever being on the field with them. Again, this is not really an evaluation - it's too early for that," said Kehoe, "but I like the athletic look of Michael Oher. No disrespect to George DeLeone, because I respect his work, but Michael was thrown to the wolves last year as a true freshman. I'm sure he had no other choice, but Michael probably wasn't ready for that. He's going to be a great player in time. He's probably going to be a tackle for us, but we'll see in spring what he's best suited for. I just know I love him on film.

"David Traxler is also impressive. I've watched him work in the weight room some and he's extremely driven and has all the tools to be very good with more training. Reid Neely is a big tall guy I'm excited about from watching him work in the weight room - good feet and some explosiveness for a young kid. Marcus Cohen also has a real shot at tackle, from what little I have seen."

At the guards and center, Kehoe briefly mentioned a few candidates he has met, eyeballed in the weight room or watched on film.

"Inside, Corey Actis appears to have what it takes; Andrew Wicker is sharp, mature and accountable; Thomas Eckers gets after it in the weight room; Darryl Harris also has a great attitude and work ethic and I see some good things in Maurice Miller and James McCoy, but I understand some of these guys have to pick up their games," he explained. "That's my job.

"The bottom line is that I need to see all these guys in pads. I need to see who has some pop to them, who is tough, who understands what we are installing and who has a little mean streak in them."

Kehoe also mentioned the offseason program under S&C Coach Aaron Ausmus.

"He is an extension of Coach O. You walk into his weight room and you are going to work until you have nothing more to give, the way it should be," Art said. "And I think that is extremely important because of our numbers situation up front.

"I am going to stress to my guys that we cannot let this team down. We are low in sheer numbers, which means we will have to pour it on to be in great shape, be lean, be fast and be tough in order to help avoid injuries. Anything less and you are not being accountable and are letting this team down. Coach Ausmus is making sure they are well on their way to reaching those goals with his offseason workouts."

Kehoe is not only enthusiastic about the OL, he's energized about everything in the program.

"I believe in what is happening here. It's just a matter of time before we are winning big. And with Coach O at the helm, and with this staff, we will minimize that time," Kehoe closed. "It's going to happen. I didn't have a lot to do with the recent signing class, but we brought in a lot of speed, size and toughness. I can see that on film I have watched of them.

"And we will have another great class next year. As coaches, we will be actively involved in their lives. They will see that we are committed to them and this team and they will become committed to it as well. We have the facilities, we have the support of the administration and we have the plan. Now it is our job to keep punching and to accelerate everything as quickly as we can. I have no doubts it's going to happen here - none.

"As coaches, we will work our tails off and get our kids to understand that we will scrap, we will finish, we will be accountable to each other and when you line up against us we will get after you."

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