After their worst season in 20 years, the Hokie football team is looking for a savior.
The question is: has it found one in new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler?
Well, probably not. But it has to be comforting for Hokie fans to know that Frank Beamer actually responded to this horrific offensive season with the kind of sweeping change in the coaching staff fans were crying for. The athletic department announced that a press conference is coming this Friday to introduce former Auburn and Temple OC Loeffler, along with new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and wide receiver coach Aaron Moorehead.
Former offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring was just too embattled to possibly remain with the team in his current capacity, and his new duties as recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach seem considerably more suited to his skill set.
Instead, Loeffler will take the helm at the sinking ship that the Hokie offense has been for the last five months or so. Now all that’s left to determine is exactly what kind of system he’ll attempt to bring with him in Blacksburg.
By all accounts, Loeffler’s plan will be to run, run, and run some more, which will represent a welcome change after a season full of pointless, ineffectual runs out of the shotgun.
During his time with Temple, the Owls averaged 256 yards a game on the ground, and he helped Tre Mason wrack up a 1,000-yard season in an otherwise abysmal campaign for Auburn last year.
One can only hope that this portends a heavy dose of J.C. Coleman, Trey Edmunds, and (if he qualifies academically) Drew Harris next season to take some of the tremendous load off Logan Thomas’ shoulders.
Make no mistake, the biggest factor in Loeffler’s chance of success next season is the return of the senior quarterback. The running game may be important, but Thomas’ return to form will truly be what helps the offense run smoothly.
Loeffler has plenty of experience developing quarterbacks, given his pupils include Tom Brady, Chad Henne, and the illustrious Tim Tebow, which could mean he has the tools to figure out exactly what went so wrong with Logan last season.
On the other hand, he could bring more of the same to town, if some of his previous interviews are to be believed. He’s been pressed frequently on what type of offensive philosophy he believes in, and would only commit to a belief in a variety of concepts in schemes, which is exactly the kind of thinking that got the Hokies in trouble in 2012.
While his experience learning from the likes of Urban Meyer and Gene Chizik is certainly more impressive than Stinespring and Mike O’Cain’s credentials, it’s still a little worrying to not hear Loeffler delineate a clear philosophy he wants to follow.
Even more worrying is his record with Auburn last year. Sure, there were plenty of reasons that teams was doomed from the start given the tension involving Chizik, but it’s still a little disconcerting that Loeffler just engineered an offense that was ranked 114th in scoring.
Fans can only hope that the Hokies’ deep running back rotation, and lack of receiver depth, will encourage Loeffler to run the ball as much as humanly possibly, which should in turn help Logan regain some of his confidence.
The other offensive coach hires aren’t to be ignored. Grimes should be a monumental improvement over Curt Newsome, given his four years of experience in the SEC with Auburn. If this team truly intends to act like a Southern football power, and even join the SEC someday, it’s nice to see the team try and raid some of the league’s talent.
Moorehead is also intriguing. He won a Super Bowl during a brief NFL career with the Colts, and then coached Stanford’s stellar receivers for the last three years. He helped develop the likes of Doug Baldwin, who turned into an under the radar star for Seattle, and he should also represent a stark change from the lackluster efforts of Kevin Sherman.
The bottom line is that it’s impossible to know too much about what Loeffler will bring to this team until spring practice begins in a few months, but his hiring definitely represents a reason to be hopeful, if not quite a miracle.
It’s definitely a start, though. And for a program that’s reeling for the first time in decades, it’s a welcome sign.