Maybe by the spring or the summer Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler can slip up to Boston College coach Steve Addazio's oceanfront home in Massachusetts for the first itme and the coaches can reminisce about the old days.
This week isn't a time for those kinds of postcard-ready, old school Dockers ad-type scenes. Loeffler has worked with and worked for Addazio, but this week Loeffler is working against him as Tech prepares to travel to BC (3-4 overall, 1-3 ACC) looking to bounce back from last Saturday's 13-10 loss against Duke.
"We won't speak until this thing is over, but he's a great football coach," said Loeffler on Tuesday evening.
"He's a man's man. He's a great family man, great football coach, tough as all get-out. You can see that on that on the tape. His personality is showing up on the tape, extremely physical on both sides of the ball, extremely aggressive on both sides of the ball and that's Steve. He's a high-energy, get after it, go get 'em guy and it's showing up. You can see his personality on the tape."
Loeffler was Temple's offensive coordinator in 2011 during the first of Addazio's two seasons as coach of the Owls. Temple finished 9-4 in the '11 season. It was 63rd in the nation in total offense (383.3 yards per game) that season out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision programs, but it was also seventh in rushing offense (256.5 yards per game) and 39th in scoring offense (30.62 points per game).
Prior to the '11 season, Loeffler was the quarterbacks coach at Florida in the '09 and '10 seasons when Addazio was the Gators' offensive coordinator. Florida went 13-1 in the '09 season. It was sixth in the nation in total offense (457.9 yards per game) in the '09 season and 41st in passing offense (236.1 yards per game.
In the '10 season, Florida dropped to 8-5. It was 82nd in total offense (350.9 yards per game) and 88th in passing offense (184.3 yards per game).
Addazio, whose son, Louie, is a sophomore tight end at BC, and Loeffler ended up at Temple together because they shared similar offensive philosophies. Loeffler has carried lessons about toughness from his experiences coaching with Addazio.
"Steve and I had a lot of the same visions," Loeffler said. "You want to be physical. You want to be tough and high-energy. I learned a lot from him.
"He's fought up the ladder to get to where he's at, and he deserves it."
Loeffler is enduring a different kind of fight of his own this season. Putting points on the board at Tech (6-2, 3-1) has been a struggle.
Through seven games, Tech is last in the ACC and 100th in the nation out of 123 FBS programs in scoring offense (21.5). It's also 13th in the conference and 110th in total offense (335.8 yards per game).
In the loss to Duke, Tech had four turnovers, all of which came via interceptions by quarterback Logan Thomas. In eight games, he's completed 55 percent of his passes for 1,665 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
"You knew it was going to be a fight," said Loeffler of Tech's scoring woes. "The fact of the matter is what happened on Saturday - the number one objective was to take care of the ball, and we didn't. We have to take care of the ball. We have one of the best defenses in the country, and if we just take care of the ball, we'll have a chance to win. The second thing that happened that hasn't happened is we made enough plays those first seven ballgames or whatever it was to win the game, and we didn't (against Duke). There were ample opportunities to make plays, and we didn't do it."
Thomas's passing efficiency rating has dropped every year he's been Tech's starter. In 2011, he finished 49th in the nation in the category. Last season, he was 90th. This season, he's 100th.
Of the four interceptions against Duke, the one that most frustrates Loeffler came with four minutes left in the second quarter and Tech trailing 3-0. Tech was inside Duke's 10-yard line, and Loeffler rightfully expected points out of the drive.
Tech was in a four-wide empty backfield set with Thomas in the shotgun from Duke's 7. After rolling out to his left, Thomas threw to the end zone, only to be intercepted by cornerback Ross Cockrell.
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"We knew they were a good red zone defense," Loeffler said. "We had a great play...(Duke) matched it. We should've put the play on the shelf and saved it for another day, thrown the ball away, kicked the field goal.
"Those are the ones that just can't occur, so that was disappointing.
"The one that I just can't let go was in the red (zone), just because that's points. Any time that we get down there, we've got to get points."
Loeffler said a lot of Thomas' problems against Duke were the product of Thomas not sticking to the script. There were too many errors to succeed.
"It's just like any great quarterback," Loeffler said. "If you go outside the box - Peyton Manning when he goes outside the box, Tom Brady when he goes outside the box, what I mean by that is maybe break a progression rule, break a footwork rule, have his eyes in wrong spot in a particular scenario - those are hard to overcome. I don't care who you're playing.
"What I think what happened is we weren't playing particularly well, we had some things flat go completely against us. You've just got to stay inside the box and fight through it. When you go outside the box, that's when normally some critical errors occur. You've got to stay within your rules, fight through it and the next thing you know, you'll have two receivers pop and you'll win the game. That's what (Thomas) has been doing. At times, it's been ugly. At times, his receivers have been covered and he's weaving through it and he's throwing the ball away. Then, whenever those opportunities come about, he makes the play. That just didn't happen on Saturday."
Tech was statistically more successful running the ball against Duke than it had been of late, posting 173 yards (second-best total of the season against an FBS opponent). Tech was particularly strong running the ball on first and second down, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, but the Hokies still converted just 4 of 18 third downs.
Thomas, who had 101 yards rushing and a touchdown on 24 carries against Duke, was responsible for the bulk of Tech's ground gains via read option plays. It's what Duke was willing to give Tech.
"Whenever you're running the power read and the zone read, it's all dictated on the end," said Loeffler, who said he called only about five designed runs for Thomas. "It's all dictated on who we're reading. They said that they were going to let Logan run the ball and try to beat him up, and that was their take in this game."
Though the Duke loss sent many Tech fans into a tizzy about the state of the program, considering it was the Hokies' first loss to the Blue Devils in the last 13 meetings dating back to 1982, all losses are equally troubling to Loeffler.
"Any loss is horrific," Loeffler said. "You don't eat, don't sleep. If it was any other way, then you shouldn't be in this business."
Prepping for BC hasn't been easy because of BC's experience level - five of its front seven are seniors - and some unique wrinkles the Eagles have in their 4-3 scheme under defensive coordinator Don Brown.
BC mixes in three-man fronts and packs a punch up front, but the Eagles still haven't been terribly successful on the defensive side this season. BC is 10th in the ACC in scoring defense (27.4 points per game) and 13th in total defense (420.7 yards per game). In BC's 34-10 loss last Saturday at 2-5 North Carolina, Tar Heels quarterback Bryn Renner completed 18 of 21 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
"The group that we're going up against (Saturday) is as physical as we've played," Loeffler said. "They're just like Alabama in terms of physicality. They're an en vogue defense, meaning that they are schematically very difficult. It's kind of like a defensive coordinator prepping for a triple option. Their scheme is different. They're very, very physical up front, and they're very experienced up front. Those front seven guys have been around. It seems like they've been around a long time, according to Logan. They play really, really hard.
"If you watch who they've lost to - Southern Cal, Florida State and, obviously, Clemson - those are three of the top teams in the country. I know USC stumbled, but it's still USC. Offenses have had to fight to overcome that defense, so it's going to be challenging."
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