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Opposing coaches cut from same mold

Sep. 20, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- When Virginia Tech's offense goes head-to-head with Marshall University's defense, don't be surprised if it often seems as though the coordinators know what the other is thinking.

Chances are, they do.

First-year Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and first-year Marshall defensive coordinator Chuck Heater have known each other for decades and remain good friends.

Just how good of friends?

"We stopped by and spent a night in Blacksburg this summer with he and his wife Amie, so my wife and I are pretty good friends with him," Heater said.

Wait, really? In a year you are playing each other?

"Yeah, he's a dear friend," Loeffler said. "A close friend. Respect him. He's a family member in my mind."

The opposing coordinators put their units on the field Saturday at noon when Marshall and Virginia Tech, both 2-1, meet at Lane Stadium in Blacksburg, Va. The game will be televised on ESPNU, which is Ch. 272 for Comcast Huntington digital preferred subscribers.

Heater and Loeffler coached together at Florida (2009-10) and Temple (2011), going up against each other's schemes on a daily basis in practice.

Heck, they are so much alike, they even went to the same school -- Michigan -- albeit Heater being a 1975 graduate who played running back and Loeffler being a 1996 graduate who played quarterback.

Still, the similarities are prevalent in the two good friends despite the two-decade difference.

"We kind of bleed the same blood, so to speak," Heater said. "We're both Michigan guys and I have a lot of regard for him as a person and a coach."

Obviously, with a close relationship, each knows the other's philosophy very well, so the matchup should be interesting.

Here is how Heater broke down Loeffler's philosophy.

"What he's doing now is what he really believes in. ... " Heater said about Loeffler's offense. "It's good stuff. He's a protégé of the (New England) Patriot system and the things that they do, and that's what you see on tape in terms of running game, passing game and the formations, shifts and movements. All those are things that the Patriots do."

Loeffler did the same of Heater's defensive scheme.

"He is an aggressive defensive coordinator," Loeffler said. "He is a pressure-oriented guy. He's playing some quarter, quarter half, but he's not afraid to play in press man.

"It doesn't matter who he's playing against, he's going to play press man. And he's going to force you to make plays. He's just like any defensive coordinator. He wants you to stop the run and force you to throw it. And that's what he's known for -- stop the run and force you to throw the ball."

Both coaches, though, said at the end of the day, it's just another week of business in college football -- one where friends cross paths all the time.

"Obviously we know each other," Loeffler said. "We were together for so long. So he'll have something for us, I'm sure. And we'll have something for him, I'm sure. It's just part of the cat-and-mouse game."

Let the (mind) games begin.

Andy Bitter of The Roanoke Times and The Virginian Pilot newspapers contributed to this report.

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