That and more takeaways from Loeffler and defensive coordinator Bud Foster after Wednesday night’s interviews.
1. As you’d expect, he defended the effort of quarterback Logan Thomas.
Loffler didn’t put his head in the sand. He said the pick six was a play that Thomas has to be smarter about throwing away. And he knows that.
But he still thinks two or three plays colored the perception of Thomas’ day significantly.
“Those two or three plays, they go one way or another a little bit differently and throws the ball away at the right spot, we’re not having these discussions,” Loeffler said. “So I’ve been there before. I’ve got the T-shirt. And it’s part of it.
“And just like I said, it’s a shame. Because knowing what he had to do in that game protection-wise, knowing what he did do in that game protection-wise, that was his hardest schematic defense as we’ve played. And it’s a shame that things didn’t go right on two or three plays.
“But that’s part of the business. That’s why you prep, to avoid those two or three. And he did prep. He prepped as hard as he’s ever prepped the previous week. He always preps hard. And it just didn’t happen.”
Loeffler said he takes the blame for it.
“The fact of the matter is you’ve got to eliminate that and that’s what you coach against, that’s what you fight against,” he said. “And that’s my job. I’ve got to get him to do those things. So if people want to blame, blame me. I’m tired of the other way. Blame myself. It’s my job to get them right.”
2. He’s also realistic enough to understand that this kind of criticism comes with the territory for quarterbacks.
Loeffler, probably unintentionally, channeled Hyman Roth from the “Godfather II,” giving a very, “This is the business we’ve chosen” vibe to many of his answers.
“It’s part of the position. It’s in your job description,” Loeffler said. “There’s a reason those guys in the NFL make millions of dollars, because the fact of the matter is if you eliminate two or three plays, all you guys would be talking about is how great he played. That didn’t happen. So that’s part of the position. That goes with the territory. That’s part of the business.”
He does think some of the criticism that’s been levied at Thomas — an amateur, not a professional, mind you — has been over the top.
“The thing of it is that you’re a college kid,” Loeffler said. “And I think whenever you’re a pro football player, you can say what you want. But you’re an amateur. I’ve always believed it, but it’s part of the business.
“I mean, no matter where you’re at, it doesn’t matter what school you’re at, when the quarterback plays well, you get way too much credit. All the time. And then whenever things go bad, you get the criticism. It’s part of the job description, as they would say. It is what it is.”
3. Running out of shotgun from the pistol has been an evolution of what the team tried to hammer home in the spring.
Loeffler was asked about why there’s been so much shotgun runs this fall after drilling repeatedly one singular under-center run in the spring. He said what Tech is doing right now is an evolution of that.
“We’re still running that play from the pistol,” he said. “Then that was the intent of it was to start underneath center. … Everything was going to start underneath center, because of No. 1, the quarterback knows how to drop. Everything should always start underneath center. You have to do that. And you’ve got to do that and we just migrated to the pistol.”
Asked if defenses taking away the running back on the read plays is putting too much of a burden on Thomas to carry the running game, Loeffler said that’s something of a concern.
“You’re trying to make sure that he’s not taking too many shots,” he said. “There’s no question about that. We’ve got ways built in that it’s a straight give. And obviously if he was healthy problem-wise, we would stay away from that, but that’s what teams seem to do on the read option right now is they seem to crash on the back and force the quarterback to pull it.”
4. Right tackle Brent Benedict’s foot has been in a boot. Wide receiver Willie Byrn’s been in a blue jersey. Loeffler says both should be OK Saturday, but …
I’m not necessarily sure I believe that with Benedict, who was held out of practice altogether Tuesday. Loeffler called him “day-to-day” and should be “OK” by Saturday, although players who don’t practice earlier in the week often have a tougher time being up to speed by game day.
Loeffler said that’s been the case for plenty of offensive linemen this year, though.
“That’s what happened to the majority of the offensive line during the streak where we were winning was they were practicing minimal but they had enough bank that they could go play,” he said.
If Benedict couldn’t go, Laurence Gibson would start in his place. He played some at BC.
Loeffler was thankful the tailbone injury Byrn suffered after getting hit at the end of a play in the fourth quarter against BC wasn’t more serious.
“Oh, gosh. That poor kid. Unbelievable,” Loeffler said. “The hit was a brutal hit. It was a clean hit. It was a perfectly clean hit and the fact of the matter is I’m glad that it’s not really, really bad, because it looked bad. It looked really bad. So I was worried about him.”
Loeffler was more concerned about Byrn on Tuesday but said he “looked pretty good” Wednesday.
5. He’s thankful the Hokies are still in the hunt after a disappointing last two weeks, but knows that won’t be the case unless they protect the ball.
This won’t be anything new to even casual observers of Virginia Tech football.
“We’ve got to do what I’ve said to you guys 150,000 times: it’s turnovers,” Loeffler said. “The fact of the matter is we’re sitting here 8-1 if we don’t turn the ball over. And again, that didn’t happen, so you’ve got to move on. You’ve got to learn from it. You’ve got to protect the football and go give ourselves an opportunity.
“But nothing will happen unless we don’t turn the ball over. I mean, that’s what’s pretty difficult is turnovers. It’s been an emphasis and we need to continue to improve on that.”
1. Kyle Fuller sounds like he’s coming along slowly from his groin injury.
Asked directly about how Fuller has looked, Foster gave a “Psssh” response, noting that Fuller had an MRI on his groin that came back negative, which was the positive news. The negative was that it still appears to be bothering him.
“There’s something in there that’s obviously affecting him and his explosiveness and things of that nature, his ability to run,” Foster said. “Obviously this is a game that you’ve got to be able to run, and I know it’s frustrating to him. It’s frustrating to us, because he’s one of our better players.”
Foster said Tech won’t know for sure until game day probably, calling the injury “day-to-day.”
“He practiced today and looked good at times. He looked like he struggled at times,” Foster said. “We’ll just have to see.”
2. He thought except for a few plays (sound familiar?), Antone Exum played “very solid” against BC.
Of course, those few plays were pretty noticeable. Exum, who was playing his second game since returning from offseason knee surgery, dropped a pick and was flagged for interference on the same play early.
“He didn’t need to grab the guy,” Foster said. “He was in great shape.”
He got beat on a pass out of the backfield for a touchdown pass to the fullback. And he got beat on a double move late in the game.
“Which was kind of a floating duck,” Foster said. “I was hoping the backside guy would pick it off.”
Head coach Frank Beamer said earlier today that Exum is “getting closer every week,” although it sounds like he’s still knocking off the rust.
“A couple things last week that you thought, OK, the end of last year, he would make that catch on the interception or maybe trusted where he’s got a receiver and not grab him,” Beamer said. “But I think he’s getting closer every week and will continue to get better.”
3. Foster offered some insight as to why Dadi Nicolas didn’t get more snaps Saturday.
For starters, BC was wary of whenever Nicolas was about to come on the field as a whip linebacker and changed its personnel grouping so that it wouldn’t run right at him.
“And that’s a compliment to him,” Foster said.
Second, Nicolas had a mental lapse early, failing to get on the field for the field goal block team after a touchdown, which led d-line coach Charley Wiles to wonder if his head was in the game. (Wiles said yesterday it was a mistake not to play him more.)
“You don’t want a guy out there that’s going to be all over the place,” Foster said. “I think Charley kind of got that vibe a little bit. Whether it was correct or not, which I don’t think it was, he played really pretty well when he was in there.
“All we go on is information you kind of feel and get from kids. If they’re all of a sudden they’re not showing up on field goal block, you think their minds not in the game or stuff like that. That’s just information we get.”
Foster agreed with Wiles that Nicolas would play more this week just as a regular defensive end.
4. He marveled at Miami’s offensive line.
This seems to happen from week-to-week, although Miami, after Georgia Tech and Alabama, is the third-best rushing offense the Hokies will face this year, averaging 198.3 yards per game, good enough for 34th nationally.
“They’re big. They’re physical. They’re athletic. They’ve got more experience back from a year ago,” Foster said. “They’ve got about everybody back. So comparing them to an Alabama or BC, I’d say they’re in that same physical capability or like BC. They’re just big, athletic dudes. Big, physical dudes. [Six-foot-8, 344-pound tackle Seantrel] Henderson, man, he’d fill up this room. …
“It starts up front with those guys. .. .They’ll probably have bubbles coming out of their nose, snarling at the mouth or whatnot for this ball game. So we have to be ready to go.”
5. Like Wiles said yesterday, he doesn’t think Miami will change much schematically with what it does without Duke Johnson.
He called backup Dallas Crawford, now the starter in place of Johnson, “a special guy too.”
Foster was the one who made the comparison to the Virginia Tech running back situation a few years ago, when an injury to Ryan Williams led to David Wilson and Darren Evans getting more of the carries.
“I think Duke Johnson is a special guy. I think Crawford is a special guy. So there’s not a big drop off, was my point,” Foster said. “That’s kind of about where they are right now with those kind of talented kids. That’s what they have. They’ve recruited well. They always have. They’re believing in each other and playing extremely well.”
“They’re Miami,” he added. “Miami’s been Miami for a number of years.”