Is Scot Loeffler the Right Guy for Tech?
By Matthew Osborne
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According to a report, Virginia Tech has hired Scot Loeffler to serve as its offensive coordinator.
After countless years of clamoring for his dismissal, the majority of Virginia Tech fans were thrilled to learn of the likely loss of offensive coordinator duties for Bryan Stinespring following the 2012 season.
The undeniable class of the ACC since joining the league prior to the 2005 season, Virginia Tech has somehow been able to dominate the conference without the presence of a dynamic offense. Stinespring’s offensive philosophy, while conducive to success with Frank Beamer’s supreme pension for defensive and special teams dominance, never maximized the offensive potential for Virginia Tech squads which were normally very talented on the offensive side of the football.
With Stinespring now apparently out of the play-calling fray, the Hokies are afforded with an opportunity to bring in an offensive coordinator who could rejuvenate an all-too-frequently stagnant and uninspiring offense.
According to CBS Sports, Virginia Tech has hired former Auburn offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler to be the coach to lead that potential offensive resurgence.
Loeffler, a 1996 graduate of Michigan, has limited experience as an offensive coordinator, having only served in that capacity for the past two seasons. Even more disconcerting to some is the lack of success which Loeffler has had with his play-calling duties at the BCS level.
In his only season as the offensive coordinator at a BCS school (Auburn, 2012), Loeffler’s offense ranked 118th in the nation in total offense, managing a paltry 305 yards per outing.
For an Auburn offense which averaged 33.6 points per game in Gus Malzahn’s three seasons as offensive coordinator, the drastic decline in offensive production was a bitter pill to swallow. As a direct result, Loeffler was released, along with head coach Gene Chizik, following the conclusion of the 2012 season.
Scrambling to find a quality job before the start of the 2013 season, Loeffler was undoubtedly thrilled to be approached by the Hokies given the tremendous success of the program over the past decade.
But is that enthusiasm reciprocated by the folks in Virginia Tech country?
For at least one former Virginia Tech signal caller, the answer to that question is an emphatic “yes”.
“I actually was very pleased with the hire. I think it was a smart choice by the Virginia Tech athletic department,” former Hokies quarterback Sean Glennon stated.
Although Loeffler’s perceived lack of success at the highest level might be cause for concern for many, Glennon has been particularly impressed with how personable Loeffler is with his players and with potential recruits. Glennon’s positive impression of Tech’s new offensive coordinator actually stems from an interaction between Sean’s younger brother, Mike, and Coach Loeffler during the recruiting process.
“When my younger brother was going through the recruiting process, if he didn’t go to NC State, he was actually going to go with Michigan,” the elder of the Glennon brothers remarked. “He and my dad came back from their visit raving about Michigan’s quarterback coach, Scot Loeffler. They said they loved him and that he seemed like a really knowledgeable guy. I think Chad Henne was my brother’s host that day, and Chad was raving about him. To be honest, if Lloyd Carr had stayed at Michigan with Scot Loeffler, my brother would have had a really tough decision to make about whether to go to NC State or Michigan because he liked him that much.”
Analyzing Loeffler’s schematic and philosophical approach, it is a little easier to understand why the Auburn offense struggled for the majority of the 2012 season.
Known as a pro-style offensive coach, Loeffler was put in a position at Auburn where almost the entire roster had been recruited to play in Gus Malzahn’s up-tempo, spread offense. The severe differences in scheme and personnel were apparent from the beginning.
Moving now to Virginia Tech, Loeffler will inherit offensive personnel more in tune with what he has in mind from a schematic standpoint.
“I think Scot does a good job of putting a little flavor on the pro-style offense. It’s not 100% like the NFL offenses, although it primarily is. He does incorporate a little bit of the spread with the college offense. I think his success speaks for itself. He’s coached Tom Brady, John Navarre, Drew Henson, Chad Henne….he’s been in the NFL and he’s had success developing his quarterbacks.”
For a team which has struggled to find consistency at the quarterback position, Loeffler’s exceptional background with signal callers is certainly a welcome addition.
Logan Thomas, a two-year starter for the Hokies at quarterback, has frequently been maligned by the media for his inaccuracy and poor decision-making abilities. Even so, Thomas’ physical abilities are so easily visible that he was still considered to be one of the top quarterback prospects for the upcoming NFL draft until he recently announced that he will return to Blacksburg for his senior season.
Completing just 51% of his passing attempts for 2,976 yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions as a junior, Glennon believes that Loeffler’s tutelage could be the influential factor which helps Thomas maximize his incredible potential.
“The guy’s talented, there’s no getting around that,” Glennon said in regard to the six-foot-six Thomas. “You can’t coach size and he’s got it. You can’t coach speed and athleticism, and he’s got it. You can’t coach a strong arm and he’s got that. The areas that Logan was deficient this season and had some problems with were, in my opinion, three major areas. One was with accuracy. I think that leads to my second deficiency, and I think they go hand in hand, and that is footwork. And then the last thing is with Logan’s decision making. I would really imagine that a guy who knows the pro-style offense and the concepts as well as Scot does is going to be a great influence on Logan.”
The ultimate verdict on Virginia Tech’s decision to hire an offensive coordinator from one of the worst offensive teams in the nation last year will be determined by the success of the Hokies offense moving forward.
For the time being, however, Virginia Tech fans remain optimistic that Loeffler’s outstanding resume with quarterbacks and his advanced knowledge of the pro-style offense will pay immediate dividends in Blacksburg.