Pinnock The Charger - Skip Comments

With Andrew Pinnock the first San Diego Chargers Draft pick to sign, Denis Savage of Chargers Update spoke with Skip Holtz, his offensive coordinator at South Carolina, the day after Pinnock signed a three year deal worth $945,650 with a small signing bonus of $35,650 ...

University of South Carolina Coach Skip Holtz was glad to hear Andrew Pinnock got the contract out of the way and he can focus on the season and upcoming training camp in Carson, CA. Training camp is set to begin July 22nd.

I then gave Coach Holtz the rundown on Andrew Pinnock over the last few weeks of watching OTA's and Mini Camps and explained how good he looked and how I thought we may have found someone special. Pinnock is looking more like the man who was named Mr. Football in Connecticut back in High School.

"I don't want to say I can't believe because you look at the draft and so much of the draft is needs," said Coach Holtz. "I don't want to say I am surprised that he went as low as he did because the draft is all about people filling needs. Somebody early in the draft has tight end needs and a bunch of tight ends go early then people take the tight ends that are left. When the fullbacks starting going late in the draft, he went but it wasn't a thing where fullbacks went early."

Fullbacks get little love I explained and that has been a commonality in the draft of late and who really knows the mystique behind the draft.

"Exactly, which makes it hard -- You look at a guy like Andrew who is 6' 250 pounds, right in that ballpark. You look at him and we weren't really an 'I' (formation) football team. We didn't feel like we had the offensive linemen in this league just to lineup and play power football up and down the field against people. So we were more spread, one back and Andrew kind of played a utility role as a fullback down by the goal line, played an 'I' back for us in the one back or played a single back in the one back and a fullback in the 'I'."

"What people haven't seen him do is seen his blocking. I think he has the ability to block. I think he has a low center of gravity, he is tough, he is physical and he is extremely strong. Most of his strength is in his hips and his lower body."

"He has great explosion, but when you look at him as a runner he is not a game breaker that's going to get you 40, 60, 70 yards runs. What he is going to do is get you four or five every time he touches the ball. His longest run from scrimmage was about 30 yards. But he really has great feet. I think an awful lot of him. Again in that league he is not going to be a guy to carry it on a consistent basis. When he carries it he runs extremely hard. He's got good athleticism."

Pinnock finished his collegiate career tied with Duce Staley (1995-96) for 14th on the school's record list with 1,852 yards on 422 carries (4.4 avg.) while his 27 touchdowns on the ground rank fourth on South Carolina's all-time record chart.

"He reminds me of, kind of like a Jerome Bettis type of player. I don't want to say he is Jerome Bettis and put him in the category with a guy that has had the type of career that Jerome has had, but he is that type of player. He is a big, talented, athletic running back."

For those of you that don't remember, Skip Holtz coached Jerome back in 1992 when he was the offensive coordinator of the high powered Notre Dame attack.

We are thinking and salivating about how he will look in third and short situations and down by the goal line. I know he did a good job for you guys.

"He did a great job for us. He was our goal line guy that we were going to give the ball to."

San Diego converted 37% of their third downs and third and short was not a pretty sight in 2002. The hope is Pinnock, at 5-10, 265 pounds, will alleviate that problem and it certainly fueled the Chargers to draft him in the 7th round.

Now Coach, I had heard he is not as tenacious a blocker as he is a runner.

"Again I will go back to'we didn't ask him to be. He hasn't played the role where he has been an 'I' fullback. He hasn't played the role where he has been that 'I' fullback as a blocker. I don't think that it is a fact that he can't do it. If we were an 'I' football team with a huge offensive line and we were going to be in the 'I' quite a bit then he would have quite a history of doing it. When you look at him, I think he is capable of doing it."

Was he scouted heavily?

"Oh yeah. With his workouts and his combines and everything. He was looked at hard by a lot of people and again what a lot of people want in that league is a fullback to play a role kind of like a Moose Johnston of Dallas. They want him to be big, strong blocker which he it. I looked at Andrew and a hard-nosed short yard runner, which he is. If I looked at Andrew and thought what weakness he probably has to continue to work on is being a receiver out of the backfield. He has improved in that are but I think that is the area where he can continue to improve."

How is he at picking up the blitz?

"He did an excellent job at pass protection. He did quite a bit of that as a one back and he did a very nice job with it. He is not afraid of contact or anything like that. We just didn't ask him to be a smash mouth 'I' fullback."

The speculation is he was a bit of a fumbler, and that caused him to be benched for a period of time. Is it lack of concentration or technique in regards to fumbling?

"There was, in the Georgia game, two fumbles. One of them, hard to put on just Andrew. It was right after the mesh and a guy came through and ended up hitting him right at the mesh point and the ball hit the ground. And another one he didn't catch a pitch on an option. Which again, that is not Andrew's strength. It was probably our fault for putting him in that situation to catch that ball. Heck he carried the ball I don't know how many times ' you look at his career I don't know what his numbers are, but I want to say he probably had three fumbles since he was here, maybe it was four. He is not a fumbler. He went through a deal there where there was a couple that were accounted to him and Coach (Lou Holtz) is hard on that. We didn't fumble the ball the last eight games of the season."

How does he handle adversity, such as a bad performance?

"I thought he handled it pretty well. I said Coach is very hard on that and he isn't going to tolerate it and he demoted him and Andrew came to work everyday and worked hard and continued until he had his opportunity again. I think he made the most of it."

What does he need to do to become successful in the NFL?

"He has a chance because persistence is the key. I think he has great work habits. He will work extremely hard and he will do what he has to do and do what he is asked to do in that league in order to be successful."

I again reiterated how good Pinnock looked especially catching the ball out of the backfield and Coach Holtz quickly broke in, "We talked a lot about that over the last two years and that right now is his weakness and he needs to improve. If you tell Andrew what he needs to work on, I promise you he is going to go work on it and I am sure he has worked extremely hard at it. That is the area I felt like he needed to improve the most."

"If he is catching the ball out of the backfield, I think he can be a dangerous weapon on offense."

Pinnock had 185 yards on 28 receptions in his career at South Carolina. After netting five a year in his sophomore and junior years, Pinnock managed 16 in his senior season.

Denis Savage can be reached at

Gamecock Anthem Top Stories