After finishing with a 3rd consecutive 6-5 season in 2017, a year that was highlighted by the program’s first ever win over a Power 5 team, but also included a 4 game losing streak to FCS teams, Coach Gill says he and Athletic Director Ian McCaw are on the same page and he doesn’t anticipate there being any changes to his coaching staff.
“We both have been exposed to the FBS level,” Gill said of his relationship with McCaw. “We talk on the same page, we understand each other, we meet pretty regularly and discuss things, really, all the time.”
Gill says he and McCaw have discussed things that need to get addressed to improve the football program moving forward, and that they have a plan to address those issues.
“(McCaw’s) here to support, he’s here to help, and he’s done a great job of communication with me,” Gill said. “(He’s) done a great job of helping our staff do the things that we need to be very, very competitive, be very, very productive in this transition period. So, I’m pleased and thankful for the opportunity that Ian McCaw has been a part of, and, obviously, President Falwell has been very impactful in this transition too. I know he’s thrilled and excited about this move, and obviously he’s had a lot do with that. I’ve got to say I’m thankful for what his support has been too.”
Beginning January 9, 2018, all FBS teams can have a 10th on-field assistant coach. Liberty currently has 9 assistant coaches – 5 on offense and 4 on defense. “I think, right now, I’m going to plan on keeping the staff,” Gill said on Tuesday when addressing the media. “I think when the 10th coach, in January, when that occurs, there could be some changes or adjustments of who may be coaching what and those kind of things.”
Gill said there may be some adjustments to the position assignments, but he hasn’t made a final determination on that yet. “There are times and things that happen and go on, and you got things that go on, and people may leave, you got all those different dynamics, but if everyone stays, I’m planning on keeping everybody here at this point in time. I may make some internal changes as far as different positions they may coach.”
The Flames’ biggest struggles in 2017 were on the defensive side of the ball. Liberty gave up 30.4 points per game while surrendering 448.5 yards of total offense and 225 rushing yards per game. Those numbers ranked 98th, 110th, and 116th, respectively, out of 124 FCS teams.
“Right now, I love the continuity of our defensive staff,” Gill said. “I think we just got caught up into the depth issue which I think set us back a little bit. We’re going to address all that. (I) feel good about our staff, and moving forward it’s great to have everybody back for another round.”
Gill hasn’t shied from making changes to his coaching staff in previous off-seasons. Just last year, offensive line coach Dennis Wagner was relieved of his duties and most of the responsibilities of the offensive coaches’ switched.
“Continuity is always a plus, but I think I also have shown that if an adjustment or modification needs to be made, then I’ll do that,” Gill said of his previous staff changes. “(I) made some changes last year, really the only coach that stayed at his position was Joe Dailey, offensive coordinator and coaching the quarterbacks. I think making that change, I got out of it what I needed to get out of it, is that we improved.”
The offense did show improvement in 2017, scoring 6 more points per game than it did in 2016. Coach Gill also said he was very impressed with what he saw out of his receiving corps.
“I think our coaching staff did a good job for the most part,” Gill said. “I still believe in our coaches, I still believe in where we’re at, I’m just glad to have the administration supporting to get us to where we’re at today.