Beat Gators, join Vols

Since the Florida game is the key to most Tennessee football seasons, maybe the Vols should hire coaches who have experience beating the Gators.

Scot Loeffler, for instance.

Loeffler is the quarterbacks coach whose prize pupil, Chad Henne, riddled Florida for 373 passing yards and three touchdowns Tuesday in Michigan's 41-35 Capital One Bowl upset of the heavily favored Gators. He completed 25 of 39 attempts and was named the bowl's MVP for his performance.

Just for the sake of comparison, Tennessee's Erik Ainge completed 26 of 41 passes for 249 yards against the same Florida defense back in September.

Loeffler, 32, is available. He was not retained by Rich Rodriguez, who replaced the retiring Lloyd Carr as the Wolverines' head man earlier this week. Loeffler reportedly met with Tennessee head coach Phillip Fulmer recently about possibly joining the Vol staff. Certainly, Loeffler has some intriguing credentials.

In six years as Michigan's quarterback coach, his troops threw 142 touchdown passes with just 44 interceptions. That's 3.23 TDs for every interception. By comparison, David Cutcliffe's Tennessee quarterbacks (Ainge and Jonathan Crompton) threw 57 touchdown passes and 23 interceptions the past two years. That's 2.48 TDs per interception.

Loeffler's first year at Michigan (2002) saw him help John Navarre set nine school passing records, including lowest interception percentage (1.56). The next year Navarre set school records for completions (270), attempts (456) and passing yards (3,331) while helping Michigan lead the Big Ten in passing for the first time since 1948. Navarre was a finalist for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award that season.

What Loeffler did with Henne was even more impressive. In 2004 Henne became the first freshman QB ever to lead a team to the Big Ten title. He threw 25 TD passes that season, tying the school record. Four of those scoring tosses came in the Rose Bowl versus Texas.

By his junior year Henne was one of the NCAA's top quarterbacks. He completed 61.9 percent of his passes for 2,508 yards and 22 TDs with just 8 interceptions, earning second-team All-Big Ten recognition behind Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith of Ohio State. Henne was a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien and Maxwell Awards that fall.

As a senior in 2007 Henne completed 58.3 percent of his passes, with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His passer-efficiency rating of 130.54 compares favorably with the 135.48 mark compiled by UT's Ainge.

Loeffler was a backup quarterback at Michigan, graduating in 1998. He stuck around as a Wolverine grad assistant in 1998 and '99, working with future NFL quarterbacks Brian Griese and Tom Brady. After two years as quarterbacks coach at Central Michigan, Loeffler returned to his alma mater in the same capacity, holding that job from 2002 until Carr stepped down following Tuesday's Capital One Bowl victory.

Loeffler probably isn't ready to be a coordinator just yet but, with Cutcliffe's departure for Duke leaving the Vols without a quarterback coach, Loeffler might be a very good fit on a revamped Big Orange staff.

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