Offensive line coach Sam Pittman looks for atonement against N.C. State

Sam Pittman

Sam Pittman

Tennessee’s film sessions for Friday’s game against N.C. State have rolled out painful reruns for Vols offensive line coach Sam Pittman.

Working in the same role at North Carolina 2007-11, Pittman led his linemen against the Wolfpack each of the five years. The Tar Heels lost all five affairs, posting a rushing average of 44.6 yards per game. They broke the 100-yard mark once and rushed for a combined minus-4 yards in the 2010 and 2011 meetings.

“It’s a sore spot for us, obviously, if you play somebody five times and they whip you,” Pittman said Tuesday. “We’ve discussed that with our team here — we haven’t had a positive rusher the last two times against them.”

Of course, when Pittman says “us” and “we,” he means “I” and “me.”

“Anytime you rush for negative yards, that means they’re beating the crap out of you up front,” he lamented.

Asked how similar N.C. State’s rushing attack is to what he’s seen the past five years, Pittman quickly responded, “They’re identical.”

* Stat most heard through training camp: UT’s offensive line has combined for 106 career starts. The only problem? Starting left tackle (QB Tyler Bray’s blindside) Antonio “Tiny” Richardson has none of them. The bright side? Dallas Thomas, who boasts 25 career starts at left tackle, will line up next to Richardson at left guard.

Pittman was asked Tuesday if some mentorship is occurring. His response paints a fuzzy picture.

“That would be an unbelievable help — if Dallas will talk to him,” he said. “That’s a deal where I think they’ve started communicating better. If you know a lot of stuff and you ain’t talking to me, that’s not going to help me too much. Dallas doesn’t talk a lot.

“We’ve been consistently trying to get that out of him — to help Tiny. He’s done a little better job of that. And that is his job. That’s his responsibility. He knows that.”

Richardson, who appeared in all 12 games as a freshman, will face N.C. State right defensive end Brian Slay on Friday. Slay started 12 games last season and posted 23 tackles (four for loss) and 3.5 sacks.

* Wide receiver Justin Hunter appears as UT’s No. 2 punt returner. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, meanwhile, appears as the No. 2 kick returner.

Given the team’s fragile situation at wideout, is Tennessee playing with fire? Special teams coach Charlie Coiner hardly blinked.

“You just asked about two explosive guys. … If I told you that either of those two had seven or eight catches after Friday night, you’d say all right,” Coiner responded. “Well we can almost guarantee that the ball will end up their hands on this play. You see why we look at it the way we do.

“We want those guys to have their hands on the football. Whether we’re talking about Justin or C.P. or Devrin (Young), that’s a touch — that’s a touch that we feel really good about.

Brendan F. Quinn covers Tennessee men’s basketball. Follow him at http://twitter.com/BFQuinn

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Comments » 32

60s70s80s90s00s10sallvol writes:

First

BigVolinCarolina writes:

Living and working in Raleigh, I really want to win this game (what Vol fan doesn't, right?)

State is no slouch, and UT is not what it was 5 years ago or even 10 years ago. It's amazing how times (and teams) can change between scheduling an opponent and actually playing them.

VolinCalif writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Living and working in Raleigh, I really want to win this game (what Vol fan doesn't, right?)

State is no slouch, and UT is not what it was 5 years ago or even 10 years ago. It's amazing how times (and teams) can change between scheduling an opponent and actually playing them.

Last year the Vols were close to where they were 5 yrs ago. and this year I think they maybe a little better than they were 10 yrs ago. I think this maybe one of the best best teams since 98

Tau_of_Tennessee writes:

I do not like the idea of Hunter returning punts...too long of a target for that situation.

BMSvol writes:

nc state is a tough team. well coached, disciplined, and oportunistic.

it will be a tough test for our guys.

It should be an exciting game and a win would be huge.

GBO!!!

Stooley_Dinks writes:

in response to Tau_of_Tennessee:

I do not like the idea of Hunter returning punts...too long of a target for that situation.

Stupid move! I know Carl Pickens did it 20yrs ago, but the Dude with a Tude wasn't coming off ACL replacement. Sure, he might make a play, but Risk > Return.

Don't do it!

DannyVol writes:

in response to Tau_of_Tennessee:

I do not like the idea of Hunter returning punts...too long of a target for that situation.

Exactly. If either receiver goes down during a punt return...don't even want to finish that thought. Put Young back there and back him up with someone else.

UTbassdrummer writes:

Patterson has the muscle for it at least, and isn't coming off of an injury. But with the speed we have spread around, this seems like an extraordinarily weird and dangerous move. I vote no.

VolMan126 writes:

I am no doom and gloom guy but if these guys get hurt on Special teams you can stick a fork in CDD HE'S DONE! I vote no!

VolMan126 writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Last year the Vols were close to where they were 5 yrs ago. and this year I think they maybe a little better than they were 10 yrs ago. I think this maybe one of the best best teams since 98

Well, lots of things have to happen if they are going to be as good as the 98 team. Coach Sal has to prove he can call plays on D and that we can control the line of scrimage like we did then. On O i think we may be better at than point that the O of 98. A proven QB in Bray is much better than T was starting the season.If you remember we struggled to move the ball in the first few games in 98. The D and the running of T Martin kept us alive early. I dont think Bray will have to run the ball to move it and the entire play book should be open friday night. At wide out we may be better even with the loss of DA FLOP than we have been in many years including 98. With Riverea,Hunter,Patterson,Rogers I would not trade them for any other group in the past twenty years for sure. We may have been close when Kelly the distraction Washington was playing.I kinda think Rogers was alot like him in the fact that he was a distraction on and off the field. I cant forget the way he acted at KY last year. He would come off the field and scream into the stands at his family and argue with the coaches on the side lines. I have never seen a player do that in the 28 years I have been going to games... I think we win BIG friday night! This should be alot of fun....GO VOLS!

GreerVol22 writes:

no guts no glory. Play your best players and let the chips fall.
GO VOLS!

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

Coach Pittman may have confidence in this offensive line, but he sure doesn't express it in this interview. Hopefully, he just one of those coaches that likes to downplay his team's strengths.

pingkr62 writes:

Starting to feel nervous. 3 days and counting. G.B.O.!!!

volfanlostnbama writes:

One Dooley stat that Chris Vernon introduced yesterday here in Birmingham sports radio in predicting NC State to win was...with teams that finish over 500 hundred CDD record is 5 & 27...based on that number and assuming NC State will be more than a 500 hundred team, Verno picked NC State to win.

It is an eye opening stat.

AllVol1 writes:

Neam will rush for a buck fifty. Then it's the air attack over the top.

Vols by 24. GBO!!

laraccoon writes:

Pittmans' success against NC St. isnt very reassuring .

hikerdude writes:

in response to VolinCalif:

Last year the Vols were close to where they were 5 yrs ago. and this year I think they maybe a little better than they were 10 yrs ago. I think this maybe one of the best best teams since 98

You have a prescription for that funny stuff you're smoking?

lomas98 writes:

The comments on possibility of getting hurt while on special teams is crazy. Injuries are part of the game. The point of the game is to win and to win you have to get the ball in the best players hands. Injuries can happen just as easy as catching 10 balls and having a safety blast you across the middle. Injuries can also occur just by planting wrong...just ask Hunter. FL had Percy Harvin and Chris Rainey returning punts, Bama had Julio Jones returning kicks sometimes, the honey badger was the honey badger due to some returns, Peter Warrick back in the day won games with returns. You think those teams would be in bad shape if they got hurt? Of course they would. Not putting someone in the game where they can help you just based on possibility of injury is crazy. People complain every year that we don't make big plays in the kicking game.....well Hunter and Patterson are the best playmakers on the team. I hope they don't get hurt returning a punt just like I wouldn't expect them to get hurt by catching an 8 yard out pattern against Florida.

madmaxvol writes:

in response to volfanlostnbama:

One Dooley stat that Chris Vernon introduced yesterday here in Birmingham sports radio in predicting NC State to win was...with teams that finish over 500 hundred CDD record is 5 & 27...based on that number and assuming NC State will be more than a 500 hundred team, Verno picked NC State to win.

It is an eye opening stat.

Dooley is undefeated in seasons where he has 17 returning starters.

There's another eye opening stat for you.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to volfanlostnbama:

One Dooley stat that Chris Vernon introduced yesterday here in Birmingham sports radio in predicting NC State to win was...with teams that finish over 500 hundred CDD record is 5 & 27...based on that number and assuming NC State will be more than a 500 hundred team, Verno picked NC State to win.

It is an eye opening stat.

Not really if you consider how many of those 27 were far above 500. No, I don't know how many.

lomas98 writes:

in response to volfanlostnbama:

One Dooley stat that Chris Vernon introduced yesterday here in Birmingham sports radio in predicting NC State to win was...with teams that finish over 500 hundred CDD record is 5 & 27...based on that number and assuming NC State will be more than a 500 hundred team, Verno picked NC State to win.

It is an eye opening stat.

Stats can be twisted anyway you want. Tom O'Brien is 0-2 as NC State coach against the SEC in openers. The SEC is 3-0 against the ACC in the Chick Fil A opening game. Each game is on its own merit and the past stats, however they are twisted, has nothing to do with the other.

CoverOrange writes:

in response to civilianvol_formerly_marinevol:

Coach Pittman may have confidence in this offensive line, but he sure doesn't express it in this interview. Hopefully, he just one of those coaches that likes to downplay his team's strengths.

I thought the same thing. What makes us think OL is a team strength? Just because they have more starts? I was thinking changing OL coach would be a positive change from repeating what didn't work the last two years. Not so sure now.

PUL4VOLS writes:

All the arguments for Hunter returning kicks, I get. But I also get if he is injured on one, Dooley will be made out to be incompetent. So how is it played? The less Hunter returns kicks the better because of coming back from the injury. Patterson is another matter. I also am concerned in how much Young goes in the backfield. We need him on returns. But it is what it is. I trust the coaches will make the right call. Guess what, we will have injuries and maybe to key players. There is no avoiding that unless we do not play at all. It's TWO days away. Let's pull out our Orange gear and strap in for the first game of 2012. It should be good. As for Coiner's unsuccess previously against the WPack, that is history. It's time to start a new streak of putting it to them. GO BIG ORANGE!

ciscopack writes:

... and that was against a bunch of 2-star farmers.

Sam recruits like a SEC coach.

givehim6 writes:

in response to Tau_of_Tennessee:

I do not like the idea of Hunter returning punts...too long of a target for that situation.

I fill the same. I hope Hunter physically and mentally up to the it. If he is healed from his injury, but the coaches would not put him there fi he wasn't ready.

givehim6 writes:

in response to civilianvol_formerly_marinevol:

Coach Pittman may have confidence in this offensive line, but he sure doesn't express it in this interview. Hopefully, he just one of those coaches that likes to downplay his team's strengths.

Feel the same marinevol, Pittman's words didn't really boost my confidence on this game day eve. He has not got the best track record vs NCST.

crappieking writes:

Dooley couldn't coach his way out of a wet paper sack. Using Hunter on punt returns is absurd. He is taking a risk we can't afford. Pittman sounds like a scare crow. Hopefully after the upcoming 5-7 or 6-6 season, we can get a Gruden type coach. Not someone that has a career losing record. I still can't for the life of me, understand why we hired this guy.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to lomas98:

The comments on possibility of getting hurt while on special teams is crazy. Injuries are part of the game. The point of the game is to win and to win you have to get the ball in the best players hands. Injuries can happen just as easy as catching 10 balls and having a safety blast you across the middle. Injuries can also occur just by planting wrong...just ask Hunter. FL had Percy Harvin and Chris Rainey returning punts, Bama had Julio Jones returning kicks sometimes, the honey badger was the honey badger due to some returns, Peter Warrick back in the day won games with returns. You think those teams would be in bad shape if they got hurt? Of course they would. Not putting someone in the game where they can help you just based on possibility of injury is crazy. People complain every year that we don't make big plays in the kicking game.....well Hunter and Patterson are the best playmakers on the team. I hope they don't get hurt returning a punt just like I wouldn't expect them to get hurt by catching an 8 yard out pattern against Florida.

Well said. Gotta admit that I'm one of those who gets a little queasy at the possibility of Hunter and Patterson getting hurt returning kicks. And while it is true that a receiver going across the middle is likely to get really blasted if he does it enough, the changes in the kickoff rules are due to the fact that people were getting injured at alarming rates. I will scream as loud as any other Vol fan if Hunter and Patterson "house" a few returns, but I surely don't want to see them wheeled off the field after a special-teams injury.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to CoverOrange:

I thought the same thing. What makes us think OL is a team strength? Just because they have more starts? I was thinking changing OL coach would be a positive change from repeating what didn't work the last two years. Not so sure now.

Maybe Pittman has high standards and doesn't want the guys to think they are better than they are. He also knows--says, even--that there is room for a bit of "show-me" in both his and the UT O-line's recent past. Would he be more credible to you if he came out and said that the Vols were going to blow everybody off the line this year? And yes, in the real world, people who have more experience at what they do are usually better than people without it and better than they themselves were before they got it. Oh, yeah, the sun still comes up in the East each morning.

Pompey writes:

in response to volfanlostnbama:

One Dooley stat that Chris Vernon introduced yesterday here in Birmingham sports radio in predicting NC State to win was...with teams that finish over 500 hundred CDD record is 5 & 27...based on that number and assuming NC State will be more than a 500 hundred team, Verno picked NC State to win.

It is an eye opening stat.

....stats are for loosers, you can make the numbers say anything you want them to say...by the way Bama may get their a** kicked this year too...

volnvette03 writes:

in response to BigVolinCarolina:

Living and working in Raleigh, I really want to win this game (what Vol fan doesn't, right?)

State is no slouch, and UT is not what it was 5 years ago or even 10 years ago. It's amazing how times (and teams) can change between scheduling an opponent and actually playing them.

Add to that, 2 brothers and a sister who graduated from there as well!!!! Yes, we need to win!

brokendownoldvol writes:

in response to VolMan126:

I am no doom and gloom guy but if these guys get hurt on Special teams you can stick a fork in CDD HE'S DONE! I vote no!

I'd use the heck out of my star players. They just go pro anyway. Get what you can out of them while they are here.

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