Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE
Quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, Scot Loeffler, offensive line coach and running game coordinator, Jeff Grimes, and wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead have officially become part of the coaching staff in Blacksburg. Tight ends coach, Bryan Stinespring, long-time play caller, accepted the demotion graciously, ensured a smooth transition for the new hires. Head coach Frank Beamer admitted the changes were difficult, but necessary. In the wake of all these moves, here are some thoughts about the storyline for this spring as National Signing Day is days away and the Hokies are also days away from securing all the 2013 verbals as official signings.
There is excitement among the fans. The new hires during Friday's press conference electrified the collective air with their belief that hard work will make the players better, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
Storyline number 1 - Will the chemistry amongst the offensive staff click right away?
Scot Loeffler, via Hokiesports.com said about working with Bryan Stinespring:
"Not at all," Loeffler said when asked if there was any apprehension about working with the previous offensive coordinator. "Actually, I had the same situation occur to me at Temple. Matt Rhule was the offensive coordinator when I went there, and he became one of my best friends in the business. He went to the Giants when I was at Auburn, and now he’s the head coach at Temple – and I’m ecstatic for him.
"Coaches are coaches, in my opinion. I know that we have a (staff) room where there are zero egos. It’s not Scot Loeffler’s offense. It’s Virginia Tech’s offense. We’re all going to work together. I’m impressed with Bryan’s knowledge, and he understands Virginia Tech. I’m really, really happy, walking into this situation, that he’s in that room."
There also appeared to be strong chemistry between Loeffler and Grimes since they both coached together at Auburn. From Andy Bitter's blog:
"I think we had an immediate connection," Grimes said. "He’s probably in a former life been an offensive lineman. Because he has a lot more the temperament and some of the personal habits of an offensive lineman. But he coaches like an offensive line coach does. And what I mean by that is he’s very demanding, he gets after the guys. He and I just really have a great relationship and have spent the last year getting to know one another. I feel great about being here with him. I believe wholeheartedly in his ability as a coach, as a coordinator. And I’ve been around some great ones, but this guy has more football knowledge than anybody I’ve ever been around and is a great motivator too, so I’m really excited to be here with him."
Aaron Moorehead is particularly excited about working with the receivers, and from the brief jostling with Antone Exum, it is obvious that he is excited to be coaching at Virginia Tech. Again, from Hokiesports.com:
"We played these guys (the Hokies) three years ago in the bowl game (the Orange Bowl), and you just saw what athletes they had," Moorehead said. "They had athletes all over the field. The quarterback (Tyrod Taylor) was obviously a very good player. Anyone who is anyone knows that Virginia Tech has had very good players for a long time. It was an obvious choice for me (to come to Tech). I haven’t had a chance to watch the receivers on tape, but I know we’ve got some good, young talented players, and I can’t wait to work with them."
Storyline number 2 - What can we expect from the offense this spring?
Grimes made the hearts of Hokies Nation flutter when he said:
"What I’m worried about is developing the toughest line in the ACC. And that’s something that is hard to measure and it’s one of those things that you can’t necessarily put a statistic with it, but I think you know it when you see it. That’s going to be my number one goal and approach. In order for us to do that, we’ve got to have the mindset up front, in order for us to do the things on offense, particularly running the football, we’ve got to have the approach up front that we’re going to dominate the game from the offensive line position. It’s the only way it works. It’s the only way your offense takes a physical approach. We’ve got to be essentially the big brothers of everybody else on the offense. I believe we’re the tip of the spear, so to speak, the first in to fight. And if we do our job with the right approach and the right mindset, then I think the other guys will follow."
Loeffler said that Virginia Tech's offensive philosophy was "similar to his playing days at Michigan," which will be ball control offense with a battering running game and play-action passes. His biggest concern is the red-zone scoring, which was one of Stinespring's most criticized areas. The players are already on campus. The players may or may not completely buy into the strategy, and that is where leadership from Logan Thomas and the offensive line needs to come in.
Storyline number 3 - Will the offense finally dominate the defense during Spring Game?
This is perhaps the thing that will be most closely watched. Forget the past struggles of Logan Thomas. Forget the east-to-west running game. Forget Marcus Davis' refusal to run block. This is perhaps the offense's chance to finally flex some serious muscles.
Moorehead and Exum had a brief exchange at the end of the press conference and were heard by many. Exum asked Moorehead what he thought about the secondary, and Moorehead responded, "I've watched film of the secondary and you'll see by the end of spring that our young receivers are going to be the hardest working players on the team." (via TheKeyPlay.com)
Moorehead basically issued a challenge. The challenge is for the wide receivers to outwork the secondary, which Exum, will no doubt take to heart as motivation to work harder during practices.
Grimes wants to make the offensive line tougher. Loeffler wants to make the offense feared. This is already shaping up to be one of the great spring camps to follow in a very long time. Be sure to make Gobbler Country your #1 stop for all things Hokies.