1. If the Hokies take care of the ball, he thinks they’ll be fine.
Loeffler said Tech’s No. 1 objective going into the Duke game was to take care of the ball. It didn’t.
“We’ve got one of the best defenses in the country,” he said. “If we just take care of the ball, we’ll have a chance to win.”
The Hokies had four turnovers against Duke. The interception in the red zone was the one that still sticks with him, though, especially when it came a play after a touchdown by D.J. Coles was negated by a penalty and prevented Tech from scoring any points on the drive.
“That’s points,” Loeffler said. “Anytime we get down there, we’ve got to get points.
“We knew they were a good red zone defense and we had a great play, the [one to Coles]. It was one that we thought had a high success rate. And came back with another one that we thought was a high success rate and they did a great job. They matched it and we should have put the play on the shelf and saved it for another day, thrown the ball away and kicked the field goal. Those are the ones that just can’t occur. So that was disappointing.”
Another difference between Saturday and other games? The Hokies didn’t make plays.
“There was ample opportunities to make plays and we didn’t do it,” Loeffler said. “The two things, the reason we stumbled, was we didn’t take are of the ball and we didn’t make plays when the plays presented themselves. Period. End.”
The loss stuck with him.
“Any loss is horrific,” he said. “Don’t eat. Don’t sleep. And if it was any other way, then you shouldn’t be in this business.”
2. He thought Logan Thomas would pull out of his early-game funk.
Mostly because the senior quarterback had done it before. But Loeffler noted that Thomas began to get in trouble when he started going “outside the box.”
“And what I mean by that is maybe break a progression rule, break a footwork rule, have his eyes in the wrong spot in a particular scenario,” he said. “Those are hard to overcome. I don’t care who you’re playing.
“What I think happened is, we weren’t playing particularly well. We had some things just go flat completely against us. He’s 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 and fight through it and then the next thing you know you’ll have two receivers pop and then you’ll win the game.
“That’s what he’s been doing. At times it’s been ugly. At times, there’s receivers covered and he’s weaving through it and throwing the ball away and then whenever those opportunities come about he makes the play. That just didn’t happen on Saturday. Didn’t happen.”
3. The running game took a step forward, but still isn’t what it needs to be.
Loeffler said Tech caught Duke “on the ropes” in the second quarter when it went no-huddle, something the team does sporadically, although he made it sound like it’s not a full-time thing for the Hokies and didn’t offer a reason why Tech went away from it.
“It’s a changeup completely,” he said. “It’s a change of pace for us.”
The ground game relied mostly on Thomas, largely through read plays. That was dictated by Duke.
“They said they were going to let Logan run the ball and try to beat him up,” Loeffler said, “That was their take in this game. It wasn’t designed directly for the quarterback. There was a couple. Like the one in the red area, whenever he scored, that was designed. But there was probably five designed runs for him. Everyone else is dictated on the run key.”
Defensive tackle Derrick Hopkins was used as a fullback for one play. It’s a short-yardage wrinkle the Hokies are trying, since Hopkins adds more heft.
“He’s a load, that’s for sure,” Loeffler said. “It’s helpful. We have a young fullback who’s undersized a little bit and he’s going to be really big as soon as he gets into an offseason program. But it gets a little bit of butt in there, a little bit of weight behind the block.”
4. Like Boston College’s offense, the Eagles’ defense is a physical test.
Loeffler said the Eagles are among the most physical defenses the Hokies will face this year.
“They’re an en vogue defense, meaning they’re schematically very difficult,” he said. “It’s kind of like a defensive coordinator prepping for a triple option. Their scheme is different. And they’re very, very physical up front and they’re very experienced up front. …
“If you watched who they lost to — Southern Cal, Florida State and obviously Clemson — those are three of the top teams in the country. I know USC’s stumbled, but it’s still USC. Offenses had to fight to overcome that defense. It’s going to be challenging. No question.”
5. He and Boston College coach Steve Addazio sound like kindred spirits.
The two worked together on Urban Meyer‘s staff at Florida, with Addazio as offensive coordinator and Loeffler as quarterbacks coach in 2009-10. When Addazio was hired by Temple prior to the 2012 season, he hired Loeffler as his offensive coordinator.
“He’s a great man. Great football coach,” Loeffler said. “Loved working with him. It was a pleasure the three years that I was with him. He’s a man’s man. He’s a great family man, great football coach. Tough as all get-out. And you can see that on the tape. His personality is showing up on the tape.”
Loeffler said he and Addazio have “a lot of the same visions” when it comes to offensive philosophy.
“You want to be physical, you want to be tough and high energy,” he said. “I learned a lot from him.”
1. Cornerback Brandon Facyson was back to practicing normal Wednesday.
Foster said the freshman was back in a normal practice jersey after being in a blue, limited jersey Tuesday.
“We had him back full speed today,” Foster said.
That doesn’t mean Facyson’s necessarily good to go for Saturday, but it’s a pretty good sign that he will be. That means the Hokies could have Facyson, Kyle and Kendall Fuller and Antone Exum as options at cornerback for the first time this year.
“It’s a good problem to have.,” Foster said. “I’m pleased with how the young kids have played, and it’s good to have the veterans who have had a lot of snaps under their belt back. We’ll see if we can’t down the road figure a way to get them all on the field. Who knows?”
2. Unlike previous years, where injuries or lack of depth at certain positions have limited what Foster could do, he seems to have a full complement of players to do a variety of things with this season.
Foster didn’t tip his hand about whether or not the Hokies would use Dadi Nicolas in a whip linebacker/defensive end role again, but it’s certainly an option.
The big reason he can even entertain that idea is because Tech has multiple ends. The fact that the Hokies are stocked in the secondary helps too, because they can do things like linebackers (the one defense position Foster said isn’t very well-stocked).
“It’s good to have athletes out there,” he said. “I don’t care what position play. It’s good to have those kind of guys out there.”
3. Boston College, in a way, is kind of like Georgia Tech’s offense.
Not schematically, but philosophically.
“They’re going to pound you, pound you, pound you, then take a shot,” Foster said. “They’ll lull you to sleep. But we’ve got to be disciplined.”
He said BC will use two, three and sometimes four tight ends, and simply run at you.
“They’re a lot like Pittsburgh where they try to bring an extra blocker around, what we call power strongs, where they bring the backside guy coming around and those type of things,” he said. “But traditionally, they’re one of the better offensive lines we play, year-in, year-out. … They don’t ask them to do much other than fire off and knock you off the ball. And they’re pretty good at it.”
4. Eagles running back Andre Williams is a power guy, but not exclusively.
Foster said the 227-pound senior, in addition to power, has “a burst.”
“He’s got great acceleration,” Foster said. “He’s a powerful guy, but he can leave with it too. Every game it seems like he’s broken a long one. That’s sort of part of the deal: you get in there and you load 10 or 11 guys in the box and they force your safeties or your corners to tackle, and all of a sudden one of those guys misses a tackle and the thing’s going the distance there.”
Foster said the key is getting to Williams before he gets started.
“When he gets a head of steam going, he’s pretty impressive,” he said.
5. He’s seen Tech win championships before with a good defense and not much else.
Foster’s a defensive guy, so naturally, he might like low-scoring games that rely on the defense stepping up to the plate. But does he enjoy the type of games the Hokies have played this year, where there’s virtually no margin of error?
“Do I like it? Shoot, I like to win,” he said. “I’d like to be able to be high-fiving people at the beginning of the fourth quarter and it’d be great and putting some backups in there, to be honest with you. But, it is what it is. This team is who we are. It’s how we were last year. It’s how we’ve been for a long time.
“But we take pride in that and playing great defense. And when we’ve won championships, we’ve played great defense and great special teams. And that’s enough to win a championship. It makes it hard, but you can do it. We’ve proven that already.”