Tennessee Coaches Optimistic About Vols' Line and Linebackers

Kevin KingSenior Analyst IIAugust 10, 2012

Tennessee defensive coordinator, Sal Sunseri
Tennessee defensive coordinator, Sal SunseriChris Graythen/Getty Images

Coaches generally speak coach speak, especially when answering questions from the press.

You can't blame them, either.

If they hand out praise in the media, suddenly the world believes they are predicting a Heisman Trophy or undefeated season. If they sound too critical to the media, the next morning the player shows up to let him know they are transferring. So, best thing to do—be bland. Always ending every sentence with "but we still have a long way to go" or "I hope we can just compete with the rest of the league."

This morning, I reviewed the latest raw video from several Volunteer coaches and players. I found the few minutes of tape on defensive coordinator, Sal Sunseri and line coach, Sam Pittman to be the most interesting of all in this group.

Here are two very seasoned coaches—both interview veterans—both were carefully answering questions from the various reporters there. And neither was doing a great job of containing their optimism for their players and how well they are coming along.

No, these guys didn't come right out and say they are tickled pink. But, you learn more about how the coach really feels if you listen to the words while simultaneously watching. Watching his facial expressions and what he does and how he says it. Confused here? Me too.

I'm confused because I am not hearing what I expected to hear the way I expected to hear it. But these coaches are clearly very pleased with how their players are learning and working to learn.

I would give a hundred bucks to be a fly on the wall in the coaches meeting the next time everyone updates coach Dooley on what they really think.

Sunseri said sophomore linebackers Curt Maggitt and AJ Johnson would be NFL players. And that what round they are taken in the draft will be up to them, based on their work ethic. He should know, he has coached several from college to the league and in the league itself. 

Coach Sunseri also had good things to mention about Darrington Sentimore, Maurice Couch and Herman Lathers.

Line coach Sam Pittman seemed very pleased with how physical the offensive line is practicing. He also noted the increased depth and how the extra competition is good for everyone. He said the younger players on the line were pushing hard—which helps both themselves and the starters.

Neither coach made any postseason award predictions or predicted an undefeated season. Both did give some form of the obligatory "we still have a long way to go." Interestingly, neither said anything like "I hope we can just compete with the rest of the league," either.

Sometimes it is as much about what you don't say as what you do.