Oher wants more

Rising sophomore offensive lineman Michael Oher started at right guard most of last season when he, admittedly, probably wasn't ready. While the learning experience was a good one, he expects a lot more from himself as he begins preparation for the 2006 season, starting with the ongoing offseason program and continuing with spring training starting on March 6. Read about it inside.

New OL Coach Art Kehoe called Michael Oher's true freshman 2005 season as him "being thrown to the wolves."

Michael didn't term the experience that harshly, but he did admit he probably wasn't ready to be starting in the SEC his first collegiate season.

"I never was really comfortable or felt I played totally in command of the situation," Oher, a 6-5 320-pounder (he's lost 25 pounds since reporting to Ole Miss last summer), said. "I'm working toward a much better season in 2006."

To accomplish the goal of being better the second time around, Ohere has a simplistic plan.

"It's all a matter of getting stronger, getting my techniques down better and studying more," he stated quickly. "I'm a lot stronger now than when I first reported here. I don't have any numbers yet, but I'm doing more reps with more weight than I was a year ago.

"I also feel faster. I don't think that has anything to do with losing weight - it's just a matter of the the drills we run and focusing more on movement. I can move just as well at 340 as I can 320, but I've gotten quicker due to the training I've had in the last 12 months."

Michael assessed his true freshman year as "OK."

"I wasn't really comfortable most of the time. There were a lot of things I didn't know and confusion can create all kinds of problems in OL play," he continued. "But I made it through the year without too many scars.

"In 2006, I believe I won't have to think as much and can just go out there and play. I'll know a lot more about defenses, a lot more about how defensive linemen react in different situations, DL techniques, my techniques to combat their moves and other things I need. While the experience of playing as a true freshman in this league was sometimes frustrating, it was a learning experience and that's the way I have to look at it."

At this writing, Oher and the other offensive linemen have only met with Kehoe a couple of times and have worked without a ball with him a couple of times for an hour each session.

"The stance he wants us to use is different from last year and it's more comfortable. It's more natural tome. It's something I can get out of quicker than the stance we used last year," he stated. "Beyond that, we haven't gotten into too much other stuff yet.

"But I'm trying to be a sponge with what he's teaching us and will teach us in the next seven months. That is critical to all of us - to learn and absorb what Coach Kehoe is teaching. To this point, I like the way he coaches."

Michael said that last year he didn't play low enough on a consistent basis and that his every-down intensity has to improve for 2006.

"I have to go through everything in terms of improvement, but staying low and playing every down like it's your last are the main lessons I learned last year," he explained. "I also need to work on my pass blocking techniques more. I was better in run blocking last year and want to bring my pass blocking up to that level."

There has been some talk moving Oher from guard to tackle. He's fine with that, if it happens.

"Tackle would be a challenge because you are kind of out there on an island by yourself, but I'm capable of handling it, I believe," Oher said. "If tackle is what the coaches want me to play, I'm ready to try it. I just want on the field - wherever they put me is fine."

His spring goals are fairly standard, but vital to his future success.

"I want to learn the entire offense, I want to get my techniques down pat, I want to keep getting stronger and I want to be as ready for August practice as I can humanly be," he closed. "I feel I will have more to prove this year. I cut myself a little slack last year because I was a true freshman in a league that does not reward inexperience. This year, I will ahve experience and will be more critical of myself. I will expect a lot more."

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