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April 5, 2013

New Beginnings

By: Jimmy Robertson

New coordinator Scot Loeffler begins the process of turning around Tech’s fortunes on offense

Scot Loeffler brings a lot of experience to Tech after stops at Michigan, Central Michigan, the NFL’s Detroit Lions, Florida, Temple and Auburn in his career.

On Jan. 18, Tech coach Frank Beamer announced the hiring of three new coaches – coordinator and quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler, offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and receivers coach Aaron Moorehead. The trio hopes to turn around the Hokies’ offense, as Tech finished 81st nationally in scoring offense and total offense a year ago.

The process began on March 27, as the Hokies opened their 2013 spring practice. We caught up with Loeffler afterward to ask him some questions about the first practice and other matters pertaining to Tech’s offense.

Q: How excited were you about this first day of spring practice, just to get back to coaching and get this thing rolling?

SL: “Coaching is awesome. It was good to get on the grass and see where we’re at. It was a typical first day – some good, some bad and some ugly. We’ve got a long way to go, but I was encouraged with the effort. We did some good things. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up. We were playing basketball today. We weren’t playing football. We were in shorts. As we go, when we get into pads, we’ll see where we’re at.”

Q: We saw that there was a student manager with a tape recorder taping the quarterback as he said the play in the huddle. What is the thinking behind doing something like that?

SL: “So they (the quarterbacks) can hear themselves. It’s amazing. I think I’m a good golfer, but the minute someone videotapes my swing, I’m like, ‘Gosh, that’s awful.’ Obviously, we use a lot of video, and we teach off the video, but they never hear themselves in the huddle. What you do is you audiotape them, and they hear themselves. Then you get the NFL cut-up or the NFL sound bites and let them listen to a Brady of the world (New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady) or a Favre of the world (former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre), and they get to compare themselves and hear how they say the play. That’s just as important as anything.

“It also allows me to check and make sure they’re getting the terminology correct. You hear how they’re saying it and where they’re supposed to break up the words and what words they’re supposed to emphasize. You’re able to assess how they’re saying the play. It’s a good teaching tool.”

Q: Over the past couple of months since you arrived in Blacksburg as the coordinator, how much film did you watch of last year’s offense here, and what did you see or not see?

SL: “I watched every game. There are a lot of things on tape that you couldn’t see. You watched the shuffling of the line because of injuries. You watched running backs that were injured. Sometimes that happens in football. A lot of bad things can happen, and a lot of things that are out of your control. The positive thing is that, even though they got themselves in a hole, they fought their way out. They were able to win the last two and then win a bowl game. At least they have some character and toughness, and my hat’s off to them for doing that.”

Q: You all have been meeting a lot in the offseason. Is this you just kind of coaching the staff on what you want to do offensively, and how did that go?

SL: “It’s a little bit of that. We’re all in there together, and we’re all sharing ideas. Football is football. When you’re out there and you’re in the shotgun, and you run inside zone or wide zone or run the trap, it’s all the same stuff. So you’re sharing ideas on what you think is the best. We’ve got a lot of really, really smart people in that room and a lot of people with a lot of experience. So we’re sharing ideas and trying to pick what’s best and apply it to where we’re at and who we have. We’re all working together.”

Q: Obviously, Coach (Jeff) Grimes is familiar with your scheme and how you want things done, having spent last season with you at Auburn. But in the passing game, how much have you worked with Coach (Aaron) Moorehead the past couple of months, and are you two on the same page?

SL: “The thing of it is he’s coming from the exact same system that I grew up in. It’s almost the identical language. I feel like I’ve been with Aaron for a long time just because of how similar the thoughts, the splits, the spacings, the type of drops … all that stuff is. But it’s not about what I know or what he knows. We’ve got to teach these guys. We’ve got to teach them and get them all on the same page. That passing game takes some time now. It’s takes some time, and we’ve got to get it right.”

Scot Loeffler has emphasized fundamentals and good mechanics
with Logan Thomas (3) and the rest of the Tech quarterbacks
this spring.

Q: With that said, how do you handle teaching your quarterbacks, especially Logan Thomas. Do you throw everything at him at once, or do you take a step-by-step approach?

SL: “We take it step by step, just like if he were a freshman in college. The one thing I do know with the quarterbacks I’ve had, when their technique is sound, when they’re smart – and he is, he’s smart and he’s tough, and we’ll get his technique right and improve him – but when all that’s right, it’s amazing how much your accuracy improves and amazing how much you don’t take sacks. A lot of good things happen when your technique is where it needs to be. That’s our emphasis. And it doesn’t matter if Logan had thrown 500 touchdown passes last year. You’re always trying to get that edge. At the end of the day, when it’s hard and things are tough and it’s the fourth quarter, you’ve always got to rely on that technique.”

Q: Where would you like him to be at the end of spring practice?

SL: “I’d like him to be much improved. I’d like for him to take what he’s learned in the spring and improve on it more in the summertime. Then he walks into training camp next August and gets better with that, and then he’s an All-ACC type of player.”

Q: This team has new guys all over the place on offense, from the offensive line to receivers to tight end. What concerns do you have just trying to develop an offense with so many young players?

SL: “Well, everyone is new to me (laughing). We have some youth. It’s always nice when you have some older guys, and we have a few. But we have a lot of youth, and we’re going to learn and get better. We’re going to take things step by step. It’s a slow process. We want to get fundamentally sound and get a base and teach them how to win. We want to teach them how to not turn over the ball. It’s amazing that, when Virginia Tech doesn’t turn over the ball or ties the turnover battle, they’re 42-5 (in the last 47 games). So heck, just don’t turn it over with our defense and the way we play teams. Just don’t turn it over.”

Q: So, for you, coming out of this spring, what will you hope to have accomplished by the end of spring practice?

SL: “It’s just like with Logan. We want to get a base. We’re going to evaluate who we have and what they do well. Even with the people who have been here a while, we still have so many fresh faces that we don’t know what we can do great. That’s what we want to get accomplished with these 15 practices. We want to find out this spring what we can do well, and then we’ll go and do what we can do – and hopefully do it well this fall.”