COLUMN: Loeffler The Answer

It was a secret not kept well, but is certainly official now. Could it be the move needed to take the next step as a program?
Though it was officially announced yesterday by Virginia Tech, the Hokies got three new coaches earlier in the week.

Article Continues Below
Whether this is a good move or bad move depends on whom you ask. The national media, including Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel, don't approve. Most Hokie fans, though, do.
This new era also represents the beginning of the end of the
How many years does Beamer have left? Who knows? It could be one, two, or maybe even five. He's always fond of saying he'll coach "as long as I'm healthy and have a good quarterback." And he'll have a good one for another year as junior
Based on Loeffler's track record with signal callers, Beamer might be coaching a while. He successfully tutored Michigan quarterbacks
Loeffler's stock took off after one season as
Loeffler has talent and has the experience to put together a nice offense in Blacksburg, but it won't come easily. There are certainly concerns and tasks for him to achieve in Blacksburg. Let's examine.
His time at Auburn couldn't end soon enough, which is a little worrisome, but not enough to come close to completely rejecting this hire. As mentioned above, the Tigers were doomed without
Thomas' junior season was a mess, but his sophomore season is why he remains at or near the top of draft boards for the 2014 NFL Draft. He's athletic, strong-armed, smart, and a leader, but something happened this fall to throw all that ability off. Not out the window, just off. It's still there. We saw it in glimpses this year.
That throw to
Loeffler has called plays for two seasons, one at Temple and one at Auburn. That's it. It's very
This might be the biggest question of all with Loeffler. One of the biggest complaints about the Virginia Tech offense in recent seasons has been the mishmash of formations and philosophies. No one is saying a spread offense or a pro-style offense is the only way to go, but rather that one specific way will work. This offense needs an identity. It's Loeffler's job to do that, however some quotes he gave after being hired at Auburn might give some pause.
"You know what, I like it all," he told
The key here is for Loeffler to not like it all. Avoid the temptation to dabble in everything. He had success at Temple with a power running game and Chizik hired him at Auburn to move the offense back under center and between the tackles. Moving more under center is something that Loeffler will certainly look at, but he can't completely abandon the shotgun with Thomas back.
One of the biggest parts of Thomas' game is his ability to run the ball and he's most effective doing that out of the shotgun. Loeffler needs to find a way to return to a power-running game while keeping Thomas' running ability out of the shotgun viable. And the answer to that is not the pistol formation.
What a hire this is, as Grimes is a top-notch recruiter and a solid position coach. His main mission: install an SEC-like demeanor on the offensive line. Get Virginia Tech's offensive line back to where it was at the turn of the millennium, when guys like
Loeffler also hired
Can Loeffler call plays? Can he fix Thomas? What system will he run? What will change up front? All wide-ranging, sweeping reforms that may or may not be brought to Blacksburg. Spring ball will be most interesting to watch because of this. However, there are two smaller more specific things I want to see implemented and used effectively under Loeffler.
This is a feature of the offense that absolutely needs to be implemented. It doesn't matter the size, the leaping ability, or the ball skills in the air of the receiver, it's all about timing and accuracy. With Thomas' arm strength, this could be a real weapon. Practice it, perfect it, and use it with lethal consequences for defenses in 2012.
Some like the hire, some love the hire, and some hate it. I'm somewhere in between the "like" and "love" categories. I can see why some are worried, I see why some are excited, and yet it's encouraging that Virginia Tech will have new direction on offense. It was a long-time coming. After a 7-6 season in Blacksburg, things had to change, and Loeffler bringing a different voice to the offense seems to be exactly what the doctored order. Spring will be interesting.