"Do you want the keys to the vault? Do you want to know how we are going to pull off one of the greatest wins in Ole Miss history?"
That's how energetic, personable and optimistic Rebel Offensive Line Coach Art Kehoe greeted the media this week.
While some may feel that's a joke, after all the Rebs are playing the number one team in the country in LSU, Kehoe was not smiling.
"First of all, you have to believe. That's number one. That is what Coach O has been preaching all week. Believe you can do it and it can be done," Kehoe noted. "I know that's cliche', but it's true.
"Then you have to grab the moment. Take it all in and make the most of a great opportunity. We are asking for, and expecting, a total commitment for 70 plays on offense."
Kehoe said that's not as easy as it sounds.
"We are asking these kids to stick their noses where they don't want to be 70-plus times, without fail," he explained. "We are sking them to play low, hit hard, look their blocks in, stay low for four quarters. Anyone can do that for a quarter, but the winners do it for four quarters. You have to be willing to do what it takes to beat the best. We are making a commitment to do that - fight, scrap, tear, compete, hit low, stay low every snap, without exception."
What makes that difficult? Start with LSU DT Glenn Dorsey, a true All-American and some say a legitimate Heisman candidate.
"He's cut from the same cloth as Warren Sapp, Jerome Brown and our own Peria Jerry. He's real thick, but he has great movement in his hips, not stiff," Art continued. "He's very menacing with his hands and able to jerk pull you or outquick you. He jumps cadence and is an impressive, difficult guy to handle.
"And if you don't believe me, ask anyone who has played against him. Beside that, he's not the only one. Their whole DL looks like a cookie cutter came through there. All of them are 6-1, 6-2 and in the 305-310 range, strong, fast, get off the ball well. They are all a pain in the butt. They are very similar to when I was at Miami and we'd play Florida State - they always had those kinds of guys in numbers. People would talk about their corners and backers, who would be good, but the guys you had to deal with every single snap were the guys up front and, in particular, two stud DTs. They make it tough for you to establish anything on the ground and are constantly attacking and pressuring."
Major key: The Rebs have to run for 100-150 yards in the game. Major problem: LSU gives up 66 yards a game on the ground.
"We have to establish the run - have to. These are guys we will have to put extra attention on all the time, a body and a half or two bodies," he explained. "An average tackle, you can sometimes brush block and move to the next level and be OK. With Dorsey or Marlon Favorite, if you leave them early and you are trying to rush off to the next level defender, they will get your back in the backfield.
"A major key will be how often we can get something going in the run game and how often can we keep ourselves out of long-yardage down and distances."
To get a running game going, though, Kehoe knows his OL will have to work to the second level eventually. There - at the linebacker slots - awaits more trouble.
"They are loads too. Thick, fast and active. They are very aggressive and are well-taught. They can defend the run and they can go cover. They have a good scheme, they have good talent, they are well-coached and they play hard. What else is there?" Kehoe asked. "We have to protect the ball, establish the run and stay out of bad down distance situations."
Kehoe said some of his guys went into the open week a bit nicked up. No problem now after the rest.
"We are totally and utterly healthy and ready to play this game," he continued. "We're excited. I'm not that sophisticated. Sure, we are going to be ready for their blitzes and all the technical things, but we just want to give them our best shot, our best fight, and see what happens.
"As a college coach or player, you can't ask for any more than what awaits us. I can't wait and I'm sure our team will feel the same way when 2:30 rolls around tomorrow."
Art Kehoe -
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