“This isn’t half speed,” he yelled, a motto for the day.
It was a spirited first practice of the spring for the Hokies. In the cramped quarters of the Rector Field House, Virginia Tech conducted a two-hour practice, the first of 15 in the next 3½ weeks.
“We need 14 more just like it,” head coach Frank Beamer said. “Great effort, great enthusiasm, a sense of urgency.
“Usually the first day, and particularly when you’re calling some new things and have some new stuff in, you’ve got guys going everywhere and can’t figure it out. I thought it was good from an operation [standpoint] and being efficient.”
Loeffler, along with new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, appeared to fit in seamlessly with the existing Hokies’ staff, not holding back from making sure things were done their way.
Loeffler was the most vocal of the three, urging a quick pace and making sure the smallest of things — even how Virginia Tech huddled — was done to his satisfaction.
“Everybody’s got to be themselves,” Beamer said. “I think you coach who you are. That’s who they are, and I’m pleased with the way it went.”
Because this is the only post-practice interview availability until next Wednesday, I’ll have to stretch out my material from tonight for the next week, so I’ll keep these quick hitters brief. I’ll expound on a few of these notes over the next couple days.
– I was struck by how vocal Loeffler is as a coach. He was very mild-mannered, buttoned-down in the introductory press conference, but he had no hesitation jumping in and correcting every little thing he saw out of order Wednesday. He went as far as to make sure Tech was huddling correctly. That was the level of detail. More on that Thursday.
– But first, here’s Shane Beamer summing up Loeffler’s on-field demeanor: “There were certainly some tight rear ends amongst the players and coaches a little bit too. He’ll let you know how he feels. And that’s good. We need that.”
– It sounded like an up-tempo first practice. “A couple guys from offense left their lunch out there at the end of practice,’ Shane said, noting that the offseason program was geared more toward strength, with the real conditioning/cardio work only beginning at 6 a.m. workouts last week.
– There were ups and downs for the first practice of the spring, as you’d expect. “If [Alabama] coach [Nick] Saban had seen practice, I don’t think he’d be real concerned about us right now,” Shane said. “But he’s probably saying that about his own team right now. Spring practice, Day Ones, wherever I’ve been, they’re all the same.”
– But, the coaches and players seemed to have a new outlook on things, much more upbeat than the dreary days at the end of last season’s disappointing run. “Our guys know,” Shane said. “We’ve talked about it a lot — 7-6 is unacceptable here. Our guys know that. And there’s certainly a chip on everyone’s shoulder and throughout this entire program, and that showed tonight.”
– Receiver D.J. Coles was in a green, no-contact jersey, although that wasn’t because of his knee. He came down with an illness a few days before spring ball began. Like a trooper, he showed up for interviews afterward, although you could tell he wasn’t feeling well. Coles said he should be able to go Friday.
– A few guys were in blue today: LB Jack Tyler (foot), FB Riley Beiro (shoulder) and PK Cody Journell (back).
– You don’t notice too much until you get close to get over 100 players into a cramped space like Rector Field House, but it really underscored the need for a bigger indoor facility. The kickers and punters worked in batting cage-style nets. Drills nearly overlapped among the position groups.
– That depth chart that was released earlier? Shane says don’t read too much into it. “I hate to break it to you, because I know y’all spent hours and hours analyzing that depth chart, I kind of looked at it and said J.C. [Coleman] finished the season as the starter, I’ll put him No. 1. … I’m sure that was a big topic for the fans all day, but that was really a ‘how do you want to set the depth chart for the first day of practice.’ And I told our guys, J.C. will take the first rep, because he’s returning. He finished the season as a starter. After that it’s wide open. They’ve got 15 opportunities to show what they can do. Every practice counts. We’re evaluating after every practice.”
– On the attrition front, Virginia Tech confirmed that sophomore wide receiver Christian Reeves is no longer on the team and plans to transfer. The McDonaugh, Ga., product, a 2011 signee, played in 10 games last year and caught one pass for 6 yards. He played mostly on special teams.
– I tweeted this earlier this week, but Ryan Pugh is helping out Grimes as an offensive line graduate assistant. Pugh was a three-year starter for Auburn and the center on the national championship team in 2010. He worked as a GA for the Tigers under Grimes last year. “He was a good player,” Grimes said. “He’s going to be a great coach.”
– How would I describe Pugh? I’d say he has some Jake Grove qualities. Pushed the boundaries of what was allowed by an offensive lineman. Probably the type of player you’d love to have on your team but hate to play against. (Is that being diplomatic enough?)
– Pugh, by the way, went to Hoover High outside of Birmingham, Ala. He was a senior during the second season of MTV’s “Two-A-Days,” although I don’t think he got much air time. He probably needed to have more pronounced ‘Bama bangs.
– Lastly, Coleman was the off-camera inspiration for Frank Beamer’s “Harlem Shake” dance. Beamer imitated the moves Coleman was doing. “I commend myself for some of those moves,” Coleman said. “There were probably some moves that he didn’t want to do. So he was like, ‘Hold up. Hold up.’” Coleman said it took three or four takes.