BLACKSBURG – Virginia Tech football coach Frank Beamer introduced his three new assistant coaches Friday, one week after officially announcing the three new hires as part of a major staff shake-up.
New offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler, new offensive line coach Jeff Grimes and new receivers coach Aaron Moorehead met with the media for an hour at the Schott Media Center in Lane Stadium’s South end zone. Those three take the spots vacated when receivers coach Kevin Sherman left to go to Purdue, and quarterbacks coach Mike O’Cain and Curt Newsome left to pursue other opportunities.
“Change is not easy for me,” Beamer said. “At the same time, you’ve got to do what you think is right for your overall organization, and that’s what I’ve done in this case. I really liked the people I had, and I really like the people I’m bringing in. Both (sets) are good people and good coaches, but I think with different personalities and so forth, these guys can bring freshness to the organization.”
Loeffler comes to Tech after spending this past season as the offensive coordinator at Auburn. In 2011, he spent the season at Temple as the coordinator, and the previous two seasons, he worked as the quarterbacks coach at Florida, where he tutored Tim Tebow. In 2008, he worked as the quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions, and from 2002-2007, he worked as the quarterbacks coach at Michigan, his alma mater.
Loeffler, who has worked with Tebow, Tom Brady, Brian Griese, Chad Henne, Drew Henson and John Navarre – all of whom play or played in the NFL – takes over the coordinator reins from Bryan Stinespring, who will remain on Tech’s staff as the tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator.
“Not at all,” Loeffler said when asked if there was any apprehension about working with the previous offensive coordinator. “Actually, I had the same situation occur to me at Temple. Matt Rhule was the offensive coordinator when I went there, and he became one of my best friends in the business. He went to the Giants when I was at Auburn, and now he’s the head coach at Temple – and I’m ecstatic for him.
“Coaches are coaches, in my opinion. I know that we have a (staff) room where there are zero egos. It’s not Scot Loeffler’s offense. It’s Virginia Tech’s offense. We’re all going to work together. I’m impressed with Bryan’s knowledge, and he understands Virginia Tech. I’m really, really happy, walking into this situation, that he’s in that room.”
Loeffler takes over an offense that struggled much of last season. The Hokies finished 81st nationally in scoring offense (25.1 ppg), 79th in rushing offense (145.9 ypg) and 81st in total offense (376.8 ypg)
“We’re going to play to our strengths as a team,” Loeffler said. “We understand that Virginia Tech has always played great defense, and they’ve always played great special teams. We need to have an offense that runs the football effectively, play-action pass, be productive on third down, and in the red area, score touchdowns.
“There are some things that Bryan has done in the past in his system that are very similar to what we believe in also. I think the marriage between what they’ve done in the past and what we want to do in the future is excellent.”
Grimes, a 1991 graduate of UTEP, comes to Tech after a four-year stint as the offensive line coach at Auburn, where he worked with Loeffler. His other stops included Colorado, BYU, Arizona State, Boise State and Hardin-Simmons.
Grimes takes over an offensive line that loses two starters and played inconsistently at times last year. The Hokies’ offensive line has been a source of contention among the fan base over the past several years, and Grimes will be tasked with bringing some on-field consistency to the unit.
“I haven’t taken inventory yet (of what Tech has on the offensive line), and I’m not worried about contention among the fan base,” Grimes said. “What I’m worried about is developing the toughest offensive line in the ACC. That’s something that is hard to measure and is one of those things that you can put a statistic with it, but you know it when you see it. That’s going to be my No. 1 goal and approach.
“For us to do the things we want to do on offense, particularly running the football, we have got to have the approach that we’re going to try and dominant the game from the offensive line position. That’s the only way it works. That’s the only way your offense takes a physical approach. We’ve got to be the big brothers of everyone else on the offense. We’re the tip of the spear, so to speak. If we do our job with the right approach and right mindset, then I think the other guys will follow.”
Moorehead moves into the role as the receivers coach. The 2003 Illinois graduate spent five seasons in the NFL playing with the Indianapolis Colts and won a Super Bowl ring in 2006. In 2009, he worked as a graduate assistant at New Mexico before moving to Stanford, where he has worked as an offensive assistant for receivers the past three seasons.
“We played these guys (the Hokies) three years ago in the bowl game (the Orange Bowl), and you just saw what athletes they had,” Moorehead said. “They had athletes all over the field. The quarterback (Tyrod Taylor) was obviously a very good player. Anyone who is anyone knows that Virginia Tech has had very good players for a long time. It was an obvious choice for me (to come to Tech). I haven’t had a chance to watch the receivers on tape, but I know we’ve got some good, young talented players, and I can’t wait to work with them.”
Though they possess a lot of experience, both playing and coaching, the three new hires make Beamer’s staff significantly younger. Moorehead is only 32, while Loeffler is 38 and Grimes is 44. O’Cain, Newsome and Sherman were 58, 54 and 44, respectively.
“Not only younger, but taller,” Beamer joked. “Nah, first and foremost, you’ve got to have knowledge. You’ve got to know what you’re talking about, and you can see it quickly if you don’t. But I do think having a good blend of older guys and younger guys connecting with kids in recruiting can help. I feel very comfortable with where we are.”
“I think the big thing is ending up with the right guys, and I feel comfortable we have. When I visited with these guys, and some of our other staff members visited with them … I’m a people guy. I kind of connect and get into what you are all about. I think these guys are good stuff, and I think we’ve got the right people.”
The Hokies’ revamped staff will be tested quickly. Tech opens the 2013 season against defending national champion Alabama at the Georgia Dome.
“Oh my goodness,” Loeffler said, laughing. “They (the Crimson Tide) do a great job and have great players. We’re going to go in there. We’re Virginia Tech now. Let’s go play. Let’s roll out the ball and go play.”
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