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Friday, 04 August 2017 13:03

Can Scot Loeffler find inspiration from Old Michigan Friend Tom Brady and Success at Boston College?

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The Boston College offensive coordinator is trying to resuscitate a dormant Eagles offense. Much has been written and said about the need for BC to up the tempo to not only make the offense more productive but more appealing to the eyes of fans coming out to Alumni Stadium and new athletic director Martin Jarmond.

Scot Loeffler has his work cut out.

The Boston College offensive coordinator is trying to resuscitate a dormant Eagles offense. Much has been written and said about the need for BC to up the tempo to not only make the offense more productive but more appealing to the eyes of fans coming out to Alumni Stadium and new athletic director Martin Jarmond.

Darius Wade is the leading candidate in camp to open the season as starting quarterback. But redshirt freshman Anthony Brown has impressed, including Thursday when he found star receiver Jeff Davis for a corner route that turned into a touchdown in practice.

There is a wealth of viable options at running back, starting with Jon Hilliman and continuing with sophomore Davon Jones and true freshmen AJ Dillon and Travis Levy.

It will be Loeffler's duty to mix them all together and put forth a unit capable of improving upon its 293 yards per game production in 2016 (127th among 128 Division I schools). Only Rutgers (283 yards) was worse in all of Division I football. The Eagles scored just 20.4 points per game, tied with Wake Forest for 118th in Division I in 2016.

The answer lies not necessarily in speeding things up but finding a better (and quicker) tempo and being able to change on the fly, something the '16 team struggled with early in the season in blowout losses to Florida State and Virginia Tech.

“Yeah, it's taking the approach that a lot of these tempo teams are," Loeffler said Thursday during the team's media day. "You have the ability to go super fast. You have the ability to slow it down. We were trying to make ourselves unique in terms of having the ability to have multiple groupings, multiple formations on the field. So yeah, the tempo, it's great. There's definitely a place for it, but at the end of the day, like anything, it comes down to execution. You've got to block. You've got to know your assignment. You've got to do your job. You've got to break tackles. You've got to block on the perimeter.

“The tempo is great, but at the end of the day, we've still got to teach technique, and the thing that you worry about whenever you're going super fast is that you lose the mentality and continue to teach technique, and that's not going to change here. We're going to make sure the quarterback is taking the right drop, we're going to make sure that our wide receivers are stock, blocking, getting the right releases, the linemen can tag to the right proper backer. So there is an advantage to it. There's a place for it. But at the end of the day, you still have to play great technique and do your job.”

Do your job. That's a phrase with which a close friend of Loeffler's is more than familiar. When Loeffler played quarterback at Michigan, a lean, lanky kid from San Mateo, California had just arrived in Ann Arbor. His first job after graduating from the University of Michigan in 1996 was to work with the Wolverines as a student assistant with Tom Brady and Brian Griese. In '97, Griese led the Wolverines to an undefeated national championship season. The next two seasons Loeffler worked more hands-on with Brady as a graduate assistant.

“There's more rhythm. There's more timing. We look like we know what we're doing much more just because of the simple fact of time.”

In 2000, Loeffler was named quarterbacks coach at Central Michigan University. After coaching the Chippewas for two years, Loeffler returned to coaching quarterbacks at Michigan for the next six years.

In 2008, Loeffler moved onto his only NFL gig to date, quarterback coach of the the 0-16 Detroit Lions. After only one season out of the college, Loeffler was rescued by Urban Meyer and hired as quarterbacks coach at Florida, where in his first season he helped mold Tim Tebow into a polished pro-style quarterback. Tebow finished the season ranked No. 1 in the nation in passer efficiency.

“Well, you know, I've been in the one and done for the last -- I think the last quarterback that I've coached back to back years was Chad Henne," Loeffler said of his Michigan quarterback in 2006-07. "Whenever you're bouncing from quarterback to quarterback to quarterback to quarterback, there's a reason New England is good besides Tommy. There's continuity. The guy has been in the system for 17, 18, whatever it is, 19 years, and any time that you're able to practice and stay within the same system for a period of time, everything gets better. That's what you've seen.”

Last year, Loeffler affectionately labeled Brady as "a rock star," a quarterback who can do it all and perform when the spotlight is the brightest.

He's not looking for Darius Wade or Anthony Brown to be rock stars. He'd be just as happy with them performing as reliable session musicians who can keep the right tempo.

“No question. You know, Darius is older, AB is young; however, they both haven't played -- Darius has played a limited role before he got hurt, played in the Florida State and I believe the Howard game, and then AB hasn't played yet," Loeffler added. "It's really important regardless who the guy is out there that the foundation always begins with the offensive line, which then trickles down, obviously, to the other positions. Those guys out there, they're going to be out there for the first time.

"They're expected to do their job, but as you well all know, as much as it starts with us, we've got to make sure that there's people around them doing their jobs to help them along with their inexperience. Is that an excuse? No, absolutely not. Our job at the quarterback position is to go out and play well, but also that's where the criticism comes in whenever everything goes great, you get way too much credit. Whenever things go bad, you get major criticism. So you need to make sure there's people around him doing their job, also.”

 

 

 

When Steve Addazio moved on from Urban Meyer's staff at Florida in 2011 to take over Temple, he brought Loeffler along as the new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Under his leadership, the Owls offense improved to the seventh leading rushing offense in the nation (257 yards per game) and 33rd nationally in pass efficiency (142.8). The Owls finished the season 9-4, ranked 2nd in the MAC East and defeated Wyoming 37–15 in the 2011 New Mexico Bowl (the school's first bowl win since the 1979 Garden State Bowl).

Last year was Loeffler's first as OC at BC. Last year was a mulligan, for the most part, though the team did win their final three games, finishing 7-6 with a bowl win over Maryland. And the offense improved down the stretch, as quarterback Patrick Towles found some rhythm and the end zone.

"I mean, he's always had to go into tough situations," head coach Steve Addazio said of Loeffler in his first season at BC. "It's amazing. Some people walk into great situations. He's walked into tough ones where he's really had to be a part of rebuilding it. That's painful sometimes. But he's done a fabulous job.”

“Last stop he was at (Virginia Tech 2013-15), he did an unbelievable job rebuilding that offense. Wasn't there, though, to reap the final rewards of that, but he's done a fabulous job revamping here and helping us to develop what we're trying to develop right now. We were together at Temple when I went in there and he did a great job of that. He's a really outstanding quarterback developer, really, and really bright guy, and a task master, and he's done a really good job.

“This has been quite a big project on offense right now to mature our football team, to recruit it and mature it, and we feel like we're really heading down a great road right now with that. But it's been a process.”But Loeffler lamented doing without what his buddy Tom has enjoyed in Foxboro: Continuity. Loeffler has bounced around. Since leaving the Lions in '08, he's coached at Florida, Temple, Auburn, Virginia Tech and now, Boston College.

Loeffler has had quite the resume and quite the travel experience in the last 20 years. He's coached at seven colleges over 10 stops, including the 2008 excursion to Detroit. He's just hoping he gets to stay a while in New England, with an old friend just down the road in Foxboro.

“Yeah, it's been fun. It's been a great experience," Loeffler said. "Every place that I've been, from Michigan to the NFL to Florida to with Steve at Temple, everywhere you learn. I've made some mistakes, and I've learned from mistakes, and I've done some really good things.

“You always look at what's happened in the past. You look at the good. You look at the negative, and you just try to keep improving and doing a better job. Every place that I was at, I loved. I mean, there were some great places that I've been, and I've been very fortunate for my age to have had some great jobs, and this place fits me. There's a blue-collar mentality with Steve. I love the discipline. I love the kids. Very excited and very humbled to be a part of this, and just like I said, I think Steve has done a great job recruiting. He's a great head coach. But I really, really like our players. They're really cool, and this is a special, unique place.”

Will the up-tempo adjustments lead to a winning record and another bowl trip? Loeffler is at least optimistic.

“We're much more ahead," Loeffler said. "We're much more comfortable with the system, and we'll play more consistent because of, again, those kids have heard the same things for more than 30 days, you know, like it was last year.

“It's an exciting time. We've got to get better. We're much improved. We're not where we'd say it's perfect yet, but we're on the right track.”