Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler spoke with the media yesterday evening after practice. The following three quotes gave some insight into the role and importance of tight ends in his scheme.
"We've got some older tight ends, we've got some talented tight ends. We've got some guys that can help us on the perimeter that got experience and that's what's got to happen."
"I'm super excited about the tight end position. I'm super excited about that. That room could be really good in my opinion, and they'll be used. They'll be used for sure."
"The type of guys that we have are athletic, they can do a lot of things, they can play a lot of positions, and they create matchup problems. So, we're really excited about that group. They got to be able to get healthy and get on the field."
As David Teel noted, tight ends haven't been playmakers in Blacksburg for some years until Loeffler joined the staff last season.
To show how infrequently Tech has thrown to tight ends: Kline's 65 receiving yards (four catches) against Pittsburgh were the most by a Hokies tight end since Sam Wheeler's 81 against East Carolina in 2007. The last Tech tight end with 100-plus yards was Keith Willis (113 on two catches) against Syracuse in 2002.
I made the image below the day after national signing day in 2011.
As part of his annual statement about Tech's recruiting class Frank Beamer remarked, "Any time you can get four defensive ends and four tight ends, I think that's good. They've got that height to them. They're 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, 6-5. They can play a lot of positions, they can help you a lot on special teams."
I'm glad tight ends will factor more in 2014 than in past seasons, but I'm also happy my 11-TE package wasn't prophetic. Before Loeffler, a versatile tight end more often than not meant said player could bulk up and play offensive line, or even quarterback. <--THAT'S A JOKE. Going forward, expect to see Loeffler use his athletic big men to create mismatches for opposing defenses.
A personnel grouping including two-or-more of Ryan Malleck, Kalvin Cline, Darius Redman, and Bucky Hodges will allow Loeffler to line up heavy against a smaller defensive front looking to defend the pass, or shift outside against teams stacking the box. If the group lives up to its billing, that'll be difficult to defend.
For as long as I can remember, Tech's flush with size and athleticism at tight end and isn't looking to move some of its talent to another position. Instead, it seems Beamer Co. wants the ability to go big and overwhelm its opponents. Consider me super excited too.