Good evening, Virginia Tech Hokies and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) fans. We have a real treat tonight. We have a Q&A with John Stansberry who is a resident of Durham, NC and an alumnus of Auburn University. He concentrates on college football on his blog, Lonely Tailgater, and since 1998 he has been a college basketball columnist at College Insider. He’s one of our “go to” experts for SEC football on Twitter. As he follows Auburn and SEC football, he’s in the unique position of providing Virginia Tech fans with information about Virginia Tech football’s new offensive coordinator, Scot Loeffler. He’s also going to answer a few questions for us on ACC hoops, the Twitterati, and even a life’s lessons question. Here we go!!
@LonelyTailgater: Being an Auburn fan it’s pretty doggone grim these days. But hey, everything goes in cycles.
@Hokiesmash: As you know, Virginia Tech just hired Scot Loeffler (former Auburn offensive coordinator) as the offensive coordinator of its football team. Many SEC fans (and some national college football writers) immediately wrote off Scot Loeffler as a horrific hire for the Hokies. True or False? Be wordy, please.
@LonelyTailgater: Completely false, and that’s because I don’t think Scot Loeffler can’t be judged on anything that happened this past season at Auburn because he wasn’t allowed to do much. In Gene Chizik he was working for a head coach with a defensive background who loved to meddle with offensive game plans. After the opening game loss to Clemson we never saw Loeffler be allowed to actually coordinate.
You’ve also got to keep in mind that Auburn’s roster wasn’t set up to allow Loeffler to succeed. I always thought that Chizik hired him as a means of getting as far away from the spread offense as possible, it was almost a way of trying to look and feel more NFL-ish in order to keep up with that beast Saban’s created in Tuscaloosa. But the personnel on hand weren’t geared for that, and that didn’t help Loeffler’s cause at all.
When an offense fails, the vast majority of fans want to blame the coordinator, it’s a knee jerk reaction. But sometimes, if you look more closely, the blame falls on that dude’s boss. When it comes to the failures of Auburn’s offense in 2012, I sincerely believe that was the case.
@Hokiesmash: Can he recover from that negative experience and why might it go well for him at Virginia Tech?
@Hokiesmash: I haven’t lost faith in Loeffler from an X’s and O’s standpoint, I think he needs to be judged on his successful 2011 season at Temple. At his core, he’s still a run first guy who builds on that to help his quarterbacks succeed.
The thing I worry about is that Loeffler essentially lost an entire season of his career, that can’t possibly help his psyche. We talk a lot about players needing to have supreme confidence in their abilities, but I think this is a case of wondering whether or not a coach will have confidence in himself.
@Hokiesmash: Can Hokies fans expect a more exciting offense under Loeffler? If not more exciting, at least, something less predictable? The knock on our prior offense was that it was one of the more predictable in the land.
@LonelyTailgater: Loeffler’s not going to put an offense there that blows the bulbs out of the scoreboard, so from that standpoint it won’t necessarily be exciting. But from an efficiency standpoint I think the offense will be a lot better.
He will establish an effective running game and build everything from there. It will be pro set in feel and at times might feel a little vanilla in its concepts. But Alabama has won two out of three national titles with that approach so I think Hokie fans just need to be patient in the early going.
@Hokiesmash: We talk deeper here – by all accounts, Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech’s 6’6” 260 lb quarterback, had maybe the most disappointing season of all BCS quarterbacks. His NFL stock dropped exponentially last year – but Mel Kiper still has a lot of love for him. Kyle Kensing (on Twitter at @Kensing45) asks an appropriate question (and we’ll steal it from him) – can Logan Thomas find redemption through Scot Loeffler – and vice versa? We know Loeffler has developed very good QBs in the past.
@LonelyTailgater: Virginia Tech ran for under 150 yards a game last season and that does very little to help a quarterback out. I’m not trying to make excuses for Thomas because he strangely looked like a deer in headlights at times. But look at how much better Thomas looked when Virginia Tech ran for nearly 200 a game the season before.
I’m a sucker for quarterbacks with impressive physical tools and Thomas fits that description. Loeffler has to love that kind of opportunity because he didn’t have anyone like that at Auburn. Look at who Loeffler has worked with at previous stops, guys like Brady, Henne and Tebow. Thomas might be a better athlete than all of them.
@Hokiesmash: Any final thoughts on the VT OC hire of Scot Loeffler?
@LonelyTailgater: Opening the season with Alabama isn’t necessarily a recipe to succeed. There’s a bigger probability that things will go ugly in that game than go positive. But Hokie fans need to stay the course early on because Loeffler knows what he’s doing. And both he and Thomas want to be redeemed for what went on last season, that’s a powerful motivating factor.
@Hokiesmash: Changing gears, let’s briefly talk a little hoops now – specifically, the ACC. You wrote this very good article at College Insider about North Carolina. Rank the ACC men’s hoops teams for us
@LonelyTailgater: Right now Miami is doing everything right, they’ve got a big frontline and all kinds of confidence. I’m not completely sure what kind of NCAA Tournament commodity they will be but they’re the class of the ACC right now. NC State SHOULD be the class of the ACC, but hey, that’s just Mark Gottfried, he seems to find ways to fail when all signs point to him being able to succeed big. And with Lorenzo Brown nursing a bum ankle that doesn’t help the Pack’s cause.
I thought Duke would have interior problems before Ryan Kelly went on the shelf simply based on the nature of his game. He likes to linger away from the basket and there’s only so much of the interior workload that Mason Plumlee can handle. With him out of the mix completely their rotation is very goofy. North Carolina is getting better but they’re still a train wreck when it comes to defending the perimeter. That will come back to haunt them time and again before this season’s done.
Virginia is just a straight Jeckyll and Hyde team, you can’t trust them on the road. I can’t tell if the Cavs will keep it up or fade down the stretch, I really can’t. After the five teams I just mentioned I really believe the ACC is a crap shoot. Would it surprise me if BC beat Maryland at home? Not really. If Virginia Tech beats Clemson is it an upset? Nope.
@Hokiesmash: Does the West Coast know about Erick Green? How do you rate his play?
@LonelyTailgater: Does the West Coast pay attention to anything going on back east? The thing I like about Erick Green is that while his shot attempts are up during his senior season he’s doing a better job of getting others involved. He’s pushed his assists per game up over 4 a game.
College hoops can get VERY boring at times in this era so a player like Green is a breath of fresh air. I love players who can get it done in transition and he’s that type of player. It’s unfortunate that he’s toiling in relative obscurity this season because he’s the real deal.
@LonelyTailgater: It’s Miami’s title to lose at this point, but NC State could shake their case of the Gottfrieds and make a run. Without Kelly, Duke might be in trouble.
@Hokiesmash: Give us five Twitter mainstream media and five blogger accounts that are following right now (so, that’s ten) – and a short explanation of their specialities.
@LonelyTailgater: Wow, categorizing who I follow on Twitter is hard, I’m all over the place. I dig @ChrisDobbertean [editor’s note: Chris’ hoops tweets are also at @DobberSBN] and @EhudHoops for college basketball, they’re must follows. I have found myself enjoying following school specific tweeps/bloggers who toil for schools I don’t necessarily follow. @BarkingCarnival for Texas, @DefiantlyDutch for Hofstra, @Zagacious for Gonzaga all jump to mind. I try to take advantage of the openness of Twitter, I don’t want to peg myself to just interacting with Auburn fans or college hoops nuts.
@Hokiesmash: As you are the advice guru on Twitter, give us a life that we all need to know.
@LonelyTailgater: I’m the advice guru on Twitter? I thought I was the snark guru? Well, now that you’ve pressed me, the only life lesson you need to follow is to strive to treat people better than they treat you, even if they’re treating you great. You can apply that to every interaction you have, personal or professional, and I guarantee you will benefit tremendously.
We thank @LonelyTailgater for participating in this multifaceted Q&A!!!