From early last spring, the battle cry of the offensive line, considered to be a strength of the Ole Miss football team, has been "finish."
"Everything is about finishing. Finish the drill, finish the play, finish the lift, finish the wind sprint, finish everything you are doing," said OL Coach Art Kehoe roughly midway through fall camp. "They have worked their butts off, are making progress and I love what they are doing."
The starting unit has remained the same since about a week into spring football - LT Michael Oher, RG Reid Neely, C Corey Actis, RG John Jerry, RT Maurice Miller.
The chore now is to keep there from being a dropoff if one of them, or more, have to come out. In Monday's practice, attended by the media, Jerry and Neely had to come out of practice due to minor injuries. The effctiveness of the unit dropped significantly.
"Mark Jean-Louis and Rishaw Johnson are doing a good job, but there is a major dropoff in communication and results when the top guys aren't in there right now," Art explained. "They had problems with some blitzing and things like that and in those areas you have to be right on. We missed a couple of times with the younger guys - that's why we practice.
"I'm starting to see Mark make some strides. He lost about 30 pounds during the summer and is developing into the player we thought he'd be when we recruite dhim. He's not where he needs to be yet, but he's getting there. He's closing fast. When a John Jerry or Reid Neely is out, it can be a blessing for those other guys get working toward a front line mentality. They need to see that they are a snap away and they need to see what it takes when you are a starter. I am conveying that to all of them. It's about competing and doing well."
Kehoe is still in the moving around process.
"I'm looking at a lot of guys in a lot of positions beyond the starters. If someone gets dinged up, we need to know who number six is, seven, eight, regardless of position, and we need to get them ready to fill that role," he explained. "We are putting guys in a lot of situations. Some of them are working and some of them are not right now, but I like where we are heading."
With two senior centers going 1-2, where will Kehoe turn next year?
"We are working Don Mosley some there and Rishaw there some too. We have to get someone ready and that will also have to be a high recruiting area as well," Art stated. "You can make centers from guys from other positions. A lot of them have been made through the years."
Kehoe is also high on his three freshmen - Johnson, Alex Washington and Bradley Sowell.
"Rishaw is the most athletic of the three right now. Bradley lost so much weight since we signed him and it's really helped him. He's ahead of schedule for a frosh OL. Alex is a little behind on his conditioning, but he's a very sharp guy," Kehoe closed. "I'd take three like them every year in recruiting for the rest of my life and never look back. All three will be good players.
"They all need work with Aaron Ausmus, work with me and work in the system, but I like their porential a lot. We have to remember they are freshmen and they take time to develop. Very few Anthony Munoz' come along in your lifetime. Even John Jerry, as good as he was last year at times, had games that weren't very good because he was a freshman. I like who we have and think they will do very well in the future."
OL update -
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