As first reported by CBSSports' Bruce Feldman, Scot Loeffler has accepted an offer to become offensive coordinator at Virginia Tech.
Va. Tech has hired former Auburn asst. Scot Loeffler as Hokies new OC, a source just told CBS.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) January 14, 2013
David Teel reported last Friday (January 11th) that Loeffler was a candidate. On Monday, Mark Giannotto reported Loeffler and former Auburn offensive line coach Jeff Grimes were in Blacksburg meeting with Frank Beamer.
Last season Loeffler began as offensive coordinator at Auburn, and ended up going down with Chizik's sinking ship. The Tigers were ranked 115th nationally in total offense (305.00 yards per game), and 112th in scoring offense (18.67 points per game). These complaints by Auburn fans seem eerily familiar.
The Loeffler Question – What the Heck are We Doing?
Here is a simple question: What is Auburn trying to do on offense? We all see what the results are. But what is Auburn's offensive identity supposed to be? You would think after watching every play of every game that we would all know this by now. We thought Loeffler was hired as a "run-first" guy but we are actually throwing the ball much more than last season. (The actual breakdown shows more run plays than passes, but when you account for all the scrambles and sacks, the numbers are much more even.) And the constant rotation of players and seemingly random play selection at times doesnt allow anyone to get a rhythm.
This offense is attempting to do way, way, way too much. And that is one of the reasons that execution is so bad. Pick a few things and execute them perfectly. We don't care if the playbook is thicker than the last volume of "Harry Potter" if we can't run most—or any—of them successfully or even competently. Oklahoma State is leading the nation in offense and they will often run the same play six times in a row on a drive. But they execute it well.
To give Loeffler the benefit of the doubt, Auburn had a dearth of talent on offense, and the pieces didn't fit. He was given a tough task to transition from Gus Malzahn's Hurry-Up, No-Huddle spread to a more pro-style run-first offense. No matter the circumstances, he failed.
However, in 2010 he was successful as offensive coordinator at Temple. Here's an excerpt from a feature on Loeffler.
Temple quarterback Mike Gerardi can be excited these days. Because he's the latest prime pupil of Leoffler's in a line that began with the New England Patriots' Brady and extended through the Miami Dolphins' Chad Henne and the Denver Broncos' Tim Tebow. Find a QB with whom Loeffler has worked and you'll hear the gushing of a converted zealot, the contents of a mind melded to Loeffler's.
"Talk to any quarterback Scot's ever coached," said Carr on Wednesday. "They'll all say the same thing: His meetings are unbelievable. You're gonna learn the game and he makes it fun. His expectations are high. But they're not unrealistic."
This man found a way to get John Navarre on an NFL roster for two years. Case rested.
Loeffler has a solid track record with developing quarterbacks (Tim Tebow, Chad Henne, and John Navarre), although one of his latest projects, Florida's John Brantley, never became a star pupil.
A statistical comparison of his two stints as offensive coordinator:
Another telling stat, Temple was 11th nationally in time of possession (32:49).
Loeffler has a diverse offensive background, working under Urban Meyer, Lloyd Carr, and in the NFL (Lions). For as long I can remember, Tech's offense has been listed in the media guide as "Multiple", which hasn't exactly been a synonym for successful. Here are a couple of quotes from his Auburn presser.
His offensive style? "You know what, I like it all," he said.
But he perhaps signaled a change from the hurry-up offense that Gus Malzahn employed at Auburn the last three years. Loeffler said his goal was to "protect that defense" and his duty would be "helping our defense and special teams here at Auburn."
If Loeffler said similar things in his interviews with Beamer Co., it's unsurprising to me that he got the job. It's evident he wants to run the ball, but it's not clear what scheme he will use to accomplish that goal. Here's Loeffler again in an interview after he was hired at Auburn.
"I don’t know what pro-style is anymore. Whenever you watch pro football on Sundays, you're seeing empty, you're seeing three (receivers on one side of the formation) by one (on the other side). You still see some two-back. I don't know what pro football is. I don't know what spread football is. What everyone's trying to do is simply this: they’re trying to find a way run the football. If you can run the football, it sets up your play-action game, and if you've got a run game and a play-action game, it forces the defense to be on their heels on first and second down.”
If it's an oil and water blend of differing philosophies, we will probably continue to see an unfocused, unproductive attack. However, many successful coaches and offensive coordinators say they use different concepts to create a focussed gameplan, finding the right mix while not straying from base bread and butter are the difficult tricks.
I know this, when I listen to a coach talk about running the football, playing great special teams, and defense, I think about what made Virginia Tech football special.
I like this hire. Loeffler's had success, he's worked with championship coaches, his offensive ideology matches the Frankinator's, and he'll continue the youth movement on Beamer's staff. I don't think anyone can predict how he will turnout. Although between now and kickoff, we all will certainly try.