Last night, the blog headed over to Columbus for a meeting of the Columbus Phenix City Auburn Club, where brand-new offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler was speaking to the assembled mass of Auburn fans in the Columbus-Phenix City area.
Before he spoke, the blog had a chance to talk to him for a few minutes about the offensive game in college football and his philosophies as a coordinator.
An edited version already appeared in today’s Ledger-Enquirer, but for the full transcript of the interview, take a look below.
Q & A with Scot Loeffler
JAE: In today’s day and age, are there any offenses that can be easily defined?
Loeffler: “I don’t know what pro-style is anymore. Whenever you watch pro football on Sundays, you’re seeing empty, you’re seeing three (receivers on one side of the formation) by one (on the other side). You still see some two-back. I don’t know what pro football is. I don’t know what spread football is. What everyone’s trying to do is simply this: they’re trying to find a way run the football. If you can run the football, it sets up your play-action game, and if you’ve got a run game and a play-action game, it forces the defense to be on their heels on first and second down.”
JAE: Gus Malzahn’s offense was widely called a version of the spread, but weren’t the run concepts based on power football?
Loeffler: “I believe so. Whenever I looked at it, that’s what it looks like. They were using spread sets, essentially two-back run.”
JAE: Does an offense have to be multiple to keep a defense from zeroing in on you?
Loeffler: “I tell you, whenever you look at defenses today, particularly across this conference, they’re as good as they come. To pigeonhole yourself in one area, or style of play, it’s really hard to move the ball. I think the evolution, and the way things are going, is people are trying to be as diverse as they possibly can. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, it’s how you run it, and how people defend it. If you can run the ball and not turn it over and play great defense, you always have a chance to win.”
JAE: You’ve coached in a lot of different systems. Was that by design?
Loeffler: “I think it doesn’t matter where you’re at. I believe that all coaches across the country are trying to make themselves better and constantly reaching out regardless of where you’re at. That’s something that our staffs, regardless of where I’ve been, have tried to evolve and stay up with the game. Try to stay one step ahead of the curve, I should say.”
JAE: What are your offense’s core philosophies?
Loeffler: “Protect the ball and run it. The foundations and the core values of football have not changed. Some plays are exciting and all that, but at the end of the day, it’s protecting the football, running the football and staying on schedule. To stay on schedule, you’ve got to throw the ball.”
JAE: Is this your first chance to run an offense the way you want to?
Loeffler: “Ever since the beginning of my career, our staffs have been very diverse and very involved in everything we were doing. My first year in coaching, I was highly involved in what we did. That’s just how it is. And that’s how it’s going to be at Auburn. It’s not going to be a one-man show. It will not be that way. Our staff, this is our offense at Auburn. It’s not my offense, it’s our staff’s offense. That’s what we’re going to do, that’s how we’re going to do it.”
JAE: When you get asked what offense you’re running at Auburn, what’s the best term for it?
Loeffler: “Multiple. There you go.”
JAE: Do you think kids learn an offense well that has a lot of different concepts?
Loeffler: “It’s very exciting for them, in terms of it being a splash of everything, but the terminology is still the foundation of NFL football. It really helps our guys when they hear the terminology. If they’re fortunate enough to move on to the next level after their experience at Auburn, they’re going to be able to walk in and get the same thing, which is really important.”
JAE: Is the goal of Auburn’s offense to mimic an NFL offense?
Loeffler: “I think all college offenses are. I think all college offenses stem from the NFL, and obviously, I think the high school guys try to do what we do. I don’t know, that’s a good question, but I think at the end of the day, I think that’s what all good programs do.”
JAE: Was the year you spent coaching with the Lions that much different from coaching at Michigan or Florida?
Loeffler: “Not at all. That’s the misconception about the NFL. They’re the best of the best, they’re coached extremely well, but football is football. There wasn’t much difference at all.”
JAE: If you can be multiple on offense, like an NFL offense, could the offense look drastically different from game to game?
Loeffler: “Really, at the end of the day, the reason for being multiple, first off, is that it gives you the ability to adapt to your personnel, adapt to injuries, adapt to what the defense gives you. To answer your question, when you’re multiple, you can adapt to what your guys do best.”
JAE: Auburn’s got a lot of skill players with very different skill sets. Will that help the offense?
Loeffler: “That’s the way recruiting is. You think you know who you’re going to get, but you’re not sure, and then you adapt to your personnel.”