The Hokies will practice as usual Thursday before having a team Thanksgiving dinner.
1. UConn might have contacted his agent about its vacant head coaching job, but Foster hasn’t heard from the school directly.
Connecticut has reportedly contacted Foster’s agent Bob Lattinville about wanting to bring in the longtime Hokies coordinator to interview for the school’s head coaching job. Foster said he hasn’t had any direct contact with the school, suggesting the talk out there Wednesday is a bit premature.
“I think they have a search committee or a group that is throwing some names out,” Foster said. “I think they’ve contacted Bob Lattinville about me. That’s as far as it’s gone. Nobody’s contacted me. We haven’t talked about the job. We haven’t done anything. So that’s kind of where it is. You guys know as much as I do about UConn.”
Foster, who has interviewed for jobs at Pittsburgh and Clemson in the last five years, was set to make $504,785 this year at Virginia Tech. He’s due an annuity in deferred payment of $800,000 if he is Tech’s coordinator through the 2014 season.
UConn fired Paul Pasqualoni in September after getting off to a slow start. Offensive coordinator T.J. Weist has been the interim coach. The Huskies are 1-9 this year. As a member of the American Athletic Conference, they’ll have a future on the outside looking in on the five major conferences in college football’s new landscape.
If it’s at all reassuring to Virginia Tech fans, Foster made it sound like the job opportunity is well on the backburner.
“Yeah, we’ve got too much going on,” he said, adding: “In the big picture, that’s probably a tough job.”
2. He thinks turnovers are the biggest thing holding back Virginia’s offense.
Foster rattled off a list of offensive players for the Cavaliers that he’s impressed with — running back Kevin Parks, receivers Darius Jennings and Tim Smith, linemen Morgan Moses and Luke Bowanko, among others – noting that UVa’s turnovers (25 to be exact) have hampered that offense.
“Just taking care of the football to me looks like it’s been their nemesis like it has been ours,” Foster said. “But I think a good enough offensive football team because they’re good enough on defense that they can keep it close. We’ve got to do what we do and play well and not do anything cheap and stop the run. Just what we’ve been doing all year.”
Foster pointed out the Miami game as an example. UVa lost 45-26, but Miami returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns and had two short fields (3 yards and 16 yards) on touchdown drives because of interceptions.
3. He doesn’t think much will change if UVa puts redshirt freshman Greyson Lambert in the game at quarterback.
For starters, Lambert might be a decent thrower, but Foster pointed out that it’s not like Watford is incapable. He’s thrown it 404 times this year for 2,080 yards and eight touchdowns (but with 15 interceptions).
Lambert has thrown for 208 yards in mop-up duty the last two weeks, with a touchdown. Foster said that’s not quite the same as doing it in real minutes, sounding somewhat skeptical that UVa will switch between the two.
“I think the other kid, he’s got a live arm, he spins it good,” Foster said. “There’s a difference when you’re cleaning up a game, as opposed to being that starter and doing that thing for all that time. So I think they’re committed to Watford, and we’ll see.
“I don’t know if it’s two quarterbacks. Is the other guy going to come in on third down, throwing situation and things of that nature? We’ll see. But I don’t think their offense will change a whole lot from what they do.”
Foster’s seen UVa shuffle its entire offense before, when Vic Hall essentially ran the Wildcat all game a few years back. Virginia doesn’t appear to have a quarterback like that on its roster, however.
4. Kendall Fuller and Brandon Facyson will start at cornerback.
This isn’t very surprising, since Torrian Gray basically said that on Tuesday.
Foster, like the rest of the coaches, doesn’t sound too optimistic about senior Antone Exum contributing.
“I would doubt it, to be honest with you,” he said. “I would hope that he would be in a position to give us some backup if we needed it, but we’re kind of going in without him, with a Plan B.”
5. He thinks Gray is very deserving of his Broyles Award nomination.
How do I know that? He used the word “deserving” in his answer four times.
“What he’s done with our kids in the secondary, he’s deserving of that recognition and I would hope would get a chance to end up in Little Rock,” Foster said. “Because that’s a great honor for him and a recognition for him.”
Foster would know about getting to Little Rock, Ark., for the presentation. He’s been a finalist four times (1999, 2001, ’05, ’06), most of any assistant coach since the award began in 1996. He won it in 2006. Nobody has won twice.
The years he didn’t win it but was a finalist, here were the winners: Maryland’s Ralph Friedgen in ’99, Miami’s Randy Shannon in ’01 and Texas’ Greg Davis in ’05.
1. To try to avoid coming out flat like they did against Duke after their first off week, the Hokies practiced more in the leadup to this game.
The Hokies had short practices and a few extra days off before the Duke loss, which Loeffler called the offense’s “worst game, by far, hands down, no ifs, no ands.”
“That was a terrible football game, on our side of the ball,” he added. “We want to try to avoid that happening again. That was our worst effort. Not effort but just worst execution. Worst, worst, worst.” (Note: I don’t think he was pleased with that performance.)
What does extra practice time do this late in the year?
“I think with our young players, I think with the quarterback, I think it’s really important to keep timing, keep consistency,” he said. “We practiced more this week than we ever have in a game week.”
He doesn’t know if the down time during the first week of the bye was the reason for Tech’s flat performance against Duke but …
“You always try as a coach to learn from history,” he said. “And we’re trying to make sure we’re guns a blazing this week.”
2. Like other coaches on the offensive staff, he’s very, very impressed with UVa defensive tackle Brent Urban.
Loeffler nearly ran out of adjectives to describe Urban, calling him “extremely disruptive,” quick, powerful, big and rangy.
“It’s evident on tape when you watch, they’re different on defense when he’s in there,” Loeffler said. “You put him on that side and, you never discredit any of their players, but he’s different. He’s an NFL football player. Plain and simple. … He’s an NFL player, inside and out. He’s a guy that we have to know where he’s at all the time.”
The 6-foot-7 Urban hails from Mississauga, Ontario.
“We need to start recruiting Canada,” Loeffler joked.
(Note: Josh Stanford is originally from Mississauga, although Tech recruited him out of Georgia, where he’d lived for a few years.)
3. Whatever glowing stuff he said about Urban, he doubled down on safety Anthony Harris.
Loeffler called him the “quarterback” of UVa’s defense, adding that he can tell Harris played quarterback in high school.
“When you watch him, I think he does a great job anticipating what he’s going to get in terms of route combinations,” Loeffler said. “I think there’s a reason he has all those interceptions. Those weren’t just interceptions that were bad decisions by the quarterback. I think he anticipates things extremely well.”
Harris, who leads the country with eight picks, will miss the first half of Saturday’s game after being ejected for targeting against Miami, a fact that Loeffler was thankful for.
“Happy that he’s out the first half,” he said with a chuckle of relief.
4. He said it didn’t take long to learn what this rivalry was all about.
Loeffler has been a part of some good rivalries over the years (Michigan-Ohio State, Florida-Georgia and/or Florida State, Auburn-Alabama) but says — and I’ll emphasize, he says – that this one ranks up there with them. (As someone familiar with the pure hate involved in the Iron Bowl, I’m not sure I believe that, but …)
“It’s one of those games that doesn’t matter what happened the first 13 or 12 weeks of the season,” Loeffler said. ‘It all comes down to, you remember this game. …
“You get a sense when you walk in here that … you feel the same type of motivation, the same type of pressure, the same type of importance as those other games. It’s an important game for this program.”
5. Like head coach Frank Beamer, he doesn’t want the team to worry about what happens in the Duke-North Carolina game before Tech takes the field.
The Hokies need Duke to lose to North Carolina in order to have a shot in the Coastal Division. Loeffler thinks that’s just a distraction to the main goal of Saturday: beating UVa.
“In all actuality, the only thing that we can control is what happens on Saturday whenever we play Virginia,” he said. “That’s the only thing we can control. We put ourselves in a position to not control our own destiny, so when you can’t control your own destiny, you’re not worried about that.
“If the football gods give us that opportunity, great. But we’ve got to worry about one game and one game only.”