Art Kehoe

As the 2006 season approaches for Ole Miss Rebel football, Offensive Line Coach Art Kehoe predicts a major improvement for the OL and the offense from spring training results. A great offseason and some key incoming players will be the difference. Read about it inside.

Ole Miss Rebel Offensive Line Coach Art Kehoe didn't smile or laugh when he said the goal for the 2006 offense is "200 yards rushing, 300 yards passing and 40 points per game."

"That better be our goal," he said seriously. "Can we reach that? Who's to say we can't? We may not reach that, but isn't that what we are shooting for? Of course it is."

Kehoe doesn't belive in ceilings. He has five national championship rings as proof of what can be done without self-imposed limitations.

"You will never reach a goal if you don't have a goal and I've never seen a goal yet that couldn't be reached," he stated. "You can accomplish anything you believe, truly believe, you can accomplish."

Kehoe believes in Offensive Coordinator Dan Werner's approach.

"Dan is great at balancing an attack but at the same time keeping things simple for the players," Kehoe said. "He loves to play with formations and personnel groupings while limiting plays so guys can go out there with their minds free and be aggressive. He's also great at keeping defenses off-balance with play-action, misdirections and other things.

"We will give opposing defenses a lot of pictures, but we will limit the actual plays we run. We will run a lot of the same plays out of different formations and we can mix and match plays and formations to give defenses a ton of looks. We will create hesitation in defenses."

Along the offensive line, Kehoe believes in his troops based on spring training results, offseason results and an incoming player or two.

"I like the progress we are making. Our offensive linemen are together, they are committed and they are working their tails off. From the offseason, I can see they are a leaner, stronger and faster group," he assessed. "We have to have total commitment around here, or anywhere, to win games. I am seeing that in my guys and in the team.

"I can see already that they are into what they are doing and I can already see a different look to their bodies than I saw in spring. Aaron Ausmus has done a terrific job in the weight room with these kids and they have followed his lead very well."

Individually, Kehoe began with sophomore Left Tackle Michael Oher.

"Michael is coming along nicely. He's very talented and has to be a pillar for us," Art stated. "I take that responsibility. With Michael it's not a matter of height, weight, strength, speed or work ethic. He's got all those things. It's a matter of finishing blocks, inserting his hands properly and having a better command of communication and line calls.

"All of that is on me. It's up to me to help him get to the level he is destined for - one of dominance. That's the goal and it's my job to get him there."

Senior Andrew Wicker has also impressed Kehoe, expecially in the offseason.

"Andrew had a good spring, but he had a terrific offseason. He's reliable, dependable and accountable. He's taken our philsophy of being 'in' to another level in the offseason," Kehoe noted. "I like where he is right now."

The center slot is one Kehoe was not pleaased with in spring.

"I am paying strict attention to that important position. We were not productive there at times in the spring," he explained. "Thomas Eckers and Corey Actis both had very good summers. I know the potential is there. They just have to pick things up mentally.

"We have a saying 'locate, communicate, eradicate' on the offensive line. Center is the number one position for locating defensive players and communicating the calls. We have to do a better job of that at center.

"We also have to make sure the ball does not hit the ground on center-QB exchanges and in shotgun snaps. They worked on that hard this summer. That cannot be a problem. I won't allow it to be. The center slot is up in the air right now and I expect it to be a heated battle all August and into the season."

At right guard, Maurice Miller and James McCoy are the top returning vets, but frosh John Jerry is expected to battle as well.

"All three did very well in the class room and in the weight room in the summer, but all three have work to do. Here's the deal with Mo and James. Both are 400 bench pressers, 300 cleaners and 550 squatters. They can run and hit. Why aren't they good players? That's my job, and theirs, to get that done," he stated. "Also, we have a youngster, John Jerry, with a world of potential. I want to get him ready in a hurry. He might figure in at RG or somewhere else."

At right tackle, Darryl Harris has done the things Kehoe wanted.

"I'm comfortable with Darryl at right tackle because he's a veteran and he's worked hard to improve what needed improving from spring during the summer," Art said. "We will be fine there, I believe.

"I'm also excited about the offseason progress David Traxler and Reid Neely have made. Marcus Cohen also had a good summer. All those guys set a good pace in the offseason and will benefit from it."

Kehoe said he expects major improvement this August from his OL compared to spring training.

"I look for us to be 20-25% better by the end of August than we were in spring and that's a real solid jump," he added.

Art is also fired up about the skill position players on offense.

"We have some good weapons on offense. We believe Brent Schaeffer can be a special quarterback. I can't wait to see him learn the offense and get comfortable in our system," said Kehoe. "I'm asked all the time if BenJarvus Green-Ellis is as good as the Miami backs we've had. There are currently eight Miami backs in the NFL.

"I really hate that question because I don't know how to compare backs other than to say BenJarvus has the same qualities they do. One, he's extremely tough and all those Miami guys were tough like that. He can do it all. He can catch, run, block and he's a great special teams player. He's our best player on offense, in my opinion. He's preparing like a warrior and he has tacked on about 6 pounds of body armour (muscle). Those are the same qualities all those Miami backs have.

"I will tell you this. I don't want to get on our bus without BenJarvus on there too. I was teasing him the other day and asked him if we were three points ahead and he already had 26 carries if he had six more carries to ice the game left in him. He said 'why just six?' That's BenJarvus in a nutshell. I love him and I also love our other backs. I think (Coach) Frank (Wilson) has more developed talent to work with this year and that position will be strong. And we've got a headhunter leading them in FB Jason Cook."

He also likes what he has seen of the tight ends and the wide receivers.

"How can you not like Robert Lane? Lawrence Lilly and Robert Hough had good springs and are getting better. Our wide receivers are inexperienced, but they are also bigger, faster and stronger than the wide receivers from last year. I think we'll be fine there. And I tell you something else - our backup QBs aren't bad players. They can get the job done and have worked hard in the offseason to improve."

In short, Kehoe sees the strengths and the deficiencies in the offensive personnel, but there's nothing in his picture that can't be overcome and no reason why the offense can't be successful.

"We have a lot of piecing together to do, but I am very optimistic about our chances and I think we'll get better and better every week because of the makeup of our players and this coaching staff," he closed.

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