Coming off a disappointing 2012 season and already one week into spring practice, there’s one word that surrounds the Virginia Tech football team: toughness.
Head coach Frank Beamer said that last year’s team was lacking it in certain ways.
“I think we had tough kids, we just didn’t always play tough, mentally or physically,” he said. “It’s always been a part of the program here, and the more you emphasize it, the more you get what you want.”
Newly hired offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler also brought up toughness.
“Toughness isn’t a once-in-the-while thing, it’s an everyday thing,” Loeffler said. “We’re trying to push the players to the point where everything is really, really hard and see if they can bring it and push themselves over the top.”
Beamer also said Loeffler brings a new element to Tech.
“You’ve got to coach who you are,” Beamer said. “and he brings excitement and emotion and I think our practices have been very fast-tempo and upbeat.”
Loeffler himself has settled in here at Tech and claims that the offense is laying a good foundation in the spring.
“I think the guys, believe it or not, are picking it (the new system) up really quickly and it’s exciting to watch. For being so early there’s things that we’re really executing well on, but there’s also things we need to improve on,” he said. “Overall, I’m really happy with the energy.”
Loeffler is also trying to make sure that senior quarterback Logan Thomas is mechanically sound for the fall.
“We’re making a huge emphasis on technique. He’s a big, strong, powerful guy, and whenever he gets his body in the right position, he makes some really good throws,” Loeffler said. “By the time we get to the fall, we need to make sure it (technique) is second nature to him. The plan is to get him in the best shape of his life.“
It’s no secret that the Hokies are trying to rejuvenate the offense, which was streets behind the defense last season. As for the defense? Senior linebacker Jack Tyler says his unit is trying to keep up.
“The biggest thing is that the offense is going at such a high pace with a lot more excitement, and I think that in turn makes the defense more excited,” he said.
Senior cornerback Antone Exum is currently sidelined as he recovers from knee surgery, but Kyle Fuller, who plays on the opposite at corner, claims that Exum is as vocal as usual.
“It won’t surprise you, he’s still the same guy out there,” Fuller said. “He’s not going to let us slack off. Having him on the sideline watching us definitely makes us play better.”
A slow start to the season won’t be an option with the Hokies opening the season against two-time defending national champions Alabama.
“There is a sense of urgency because we do play Alabama in that first game," said Jack Tyler. "It’s just adding a whole new intensity level to practice, and it’s more fun, honestly.”