Pittman a star coming of age with LSU defense

After a big 21-17 victory over Florida Saturday night, LSU coach Les Miles was quick to call his defense one that is "coming of age."

The defense confused and confounded the Florida offense and never allowed it to find a rhythm. But particularly, the best personification of Miles quote comes in defensive end Chase Pittman.

 

His numbers for the game included three tackles and one pass block that came in the series following quarterback JaMarcus Russell's 44 yard touchdown pass to Bennie Brazell. But his contribution is not evident on the score sheet. He, along with the rest of the defensive line, hurried and harried all-SEC quarterback Chris Leak continuously throughout the contest.

 

The key to the Tiger attack was very simple.

 

"If you are not pressuring a quarterback like Leak," said Miles. "It is going to be a long day."

The defensive front allowed only 99 rushing yards on the day. They also contained Leak to -32 rushing yards total and applied enough pressure to allow only 11 complete passes.

 

"I felt like we played really well defensively," said Pittman. "Coach Pellini put in a new scheme for Florida and it was one that we have not run all season. It worked pretty good."

 

Pittman's 2005 season would aptly be described, to steal Miles' phrase, as a "coming of age." His road has been a long and detoured one, but now he finally feels he has arrived.

 

"I just love to come out and play. My friends are here and we love to go out and have fun."

 

He was a highly recruited defensive lineman coming out of state powerhouse Evangel in Shreveport. He opted to sign with Texas and was red shirted in 2002. His second year, he saw success. He appeared in ten games and recorded ten tackles and two and half sacks. Four of those tackles totaled -20 yards.

 

He then transferred to LSU and was forced to sit out all of last year. When he was cleared to play, he made an immediate impression. This spring, he steadily moved up the depth chart and eventually wound up at the top of the list at defensive end. Is if that was not a wild enough ascent, he had the unenviable task of replacing Marcus Spears.

 

So far, he has made his presence known.

 

The defense was determined to play a full four quarters of football against the Gators. In the Tennessee game, the Volunteer offense scored all of their points in the second half. Coach Dunbar and the rest of the defensive line vowed not to burnout after three quarters this week.

 

To prevent fatigue against Florida, the defensive coaching staff issued substitutes for the starters to take a breather a la Chinese Bandits. This had a positive impact for the rested defense late in the game. Especially compared to the tired offensive line of Florida.

 

Pittman credited his alternate, Ryan Willis, for much of his success.

 

"When we ran two minutes at the end of game, I went three plays and then Willis came in and went three plays," said Pittman. "We were both fresh and kept it coming and we both put pressure on the quarterback, so yeah, it worked to our advantage."

 

The pressure on Leak was evident.

 

The defense sacked Leak four times for a loss of 33 yards. They also had one quarterback hurry and seven pass breakups.

 

"Our defense played great," said Miles. "They had a great plan and came to play."

 

And it was not just the front four who played well. Their performance assisted the rest of the team in their outing.

 

Ali Highsmith had eight tackles and two sacks. He praised the defensive line for their part in his performance.

 

"If they do their job and we just sit back and let them do what have got to do, then everything becomes clear for us."

 

To the defense, Leak had a bull's-eye on his back all game.

 

"It is what we love to do," said Pittman. "We go out and hit people in the mouth. And when we are having fun, we become more aggressive."

 

The fun factor was evident in the defensive line as they became more and more animated as the game progressed.

 

After a big play on defense where they stopped Leak, Pittman threw a punch to punctuate the effort.

 

"I did that in my first career college sack at Texas. It stuck with me and people laughed at it."

Pittman is hoping to influence the rest of the defense.

 

"I told Willis after his first sack against Miss. St. that he needed a move."

 

In order for the rest of the defense to adopt their own signature move, they will have to continue to make big plays.

And if the Florida game is any indicator, some players might have quite a few by season's end.


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