BLACKSBURG — When Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas needed to find his new offensive coordinator in the 2 1/2 months that passed from the time Scot Loeffler was hired in January and the start of spring practice, Thomas never had to go far to run him down.
In past winter seasons, it wasn't unusual to walk down the hallway of assistant football coaches' offices at Tech and find doors open and coaches floating from room to room. In terms of communication between the coaches, there was just as much going on this past winter, but it happened for the new offensive staff in a lot of quiet meetings behind film room doors that would stay closed for up to eight hours a day.
That's where Thomas would find Loeffler. It became routine for Thomas to slip quietly into those meeting rooms and soak in what was being said.
"He's a gym rat," Loeffler said.
"He just wants to be around it. He's a grinding machine."
Thomas estimated he spent two-to-seven hours a day just hanging around Loeffler. The result was a set of tweaks to Thomas' throwing motion Thomas insists have already done wonders for his accuracy.
"I'm putting the ball where I want it, and I'm putting it (there) with a lot of velocity as well," said Thomas, who completed 7 of 17 passes for 164 yards and two interceptions Monday in Tech's first open scrimmage of the spring. "It's making it easier for the guys to catch, and then turn and run with it."
Loeffler didn't want to reinvent Thomas' throwing motion. Yet, there were certain mechanical traits that needed to be addressed after Thomas completed just 51 percent of his passes last season for 2,976 yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Loeffler likes what he's seen thus far from Thomas.
"I think he's got a really good sense of body position…getting his body in position to throw to the primary receiver," said Loeffler, who was Auburn's offensive coordinator last season. "His release is quicker. He's getting the ball out of his hands. He's upright in the pocket.
"Are we there yet with him? No, but we're making strides. He's improved in six days as fast as anyone I've ever been around."
Right now, Tech's offense is still very much in the getting-to-know-you stage with Loeffler. Defensive end James Gayle, a Bethel High graduate who had 3 1/2 of Tech's 10 "sacks" (merely touching the quarterback constituted a sack) in the scrimmage, said the offense has only shown about five or six plays.
It's more about Loeffler getting a feel for what he has at the inexperienced wide receiver spots, in the backfield, working with some formation looks and different personnel groupings.
There were flashes of potential things to come in the scrimmage, like wide receiver D.J. Coles being put in motion and operating in something resembling an H-back role, and No. 2 running back Trey Edmunds (seven carries for 29 yards in the scrimmage) splitting out wide right after breaking the huddle before moving to the backfield prior to the snap.
Thomas said his first interception in the scrimmage — a deep throw off his back foot that was picked off by safety Der'Woun Greene — was the result of Loeffler giving the offense an idea to try to execute on the fly.
Maybe a little too much, too soon.
"A lot of the offense, which I like, is shifting and motion," Tech coach Frank Beamer said.
"(The offensive staff has) met and they've been very organized. Everybody needs to know what's going on, so it's one of those necessary things. I think you see the results on the field. We're not running into each other out there. We're executing at a good rate. I think that extra meeting time pays off."
Most of the changes Thomas, who said Monday the NFL draft advisory committee projected him to be taken no later than the third round had he decided to forgo his senior season and enter the draft, has made to his throwing motion involve lower body mechanics. He said he's holding the ball with a little looser grip, but the biggest thing is he's making sure he's making throws with his right shoulder, hip and foot all in line.
As far as getting on the same page with Loeffler, Thomas insists that didn't take any time at all. Of course, the work is just getting started.
"He's a little bit more upbeat than (former Tech quarterbacks) coach (Mike) O'Cain was," Thomas said. "It's something good for me. I get a different view of things,s and it's a different way of teaching."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun