On Saturday, September 8th, the Liberty Flames fell to 1-1, dropping their first game of the season, 38-14, to the Army Black Knights. When asked about Saturday’s performance, Liberty coach , Turner Gill stated:
“They were playing a lot better than we were as far as the physicality, and they just executed better than we did on offense, defense and really on special teams too. It was more disappointing from an offensive perspective. We did not do what we needed to do execution-wise, so it’s a little bit disappointing that we didn’t play to the level we needed to. I have to give credit to Army. They’re a good football team, and I knew it was going to take a whole lot to beat them. They didn’t play as well last game, and I knew they were going to have a heck of a game this second game. We just didn’t rise to the occasion.”
A few takeaways from Saturday’s game:
- Costly Mistakes – The Liberty Flames came out flat this past Saturday, and although their effort picked up in the second half, early mistakes caused the Flames to fall behind 17-0 at the half, making a comeback too much to overcome. Liberty fumbled on the first drive of the game, punted on the next 4 drives, and finished their final first half drive with a turnover on downs. Poor play-calling, dropped passes, and a targeting penalty from punter Aidan Alves (that went viral on social media), all contributed to the Flames’ misfortune. Also, the early deficit could have been much worse, and the Flames were lucky that Army had 2 touchdowns called back for illegal blocking and over 100 penalty yards in the first half.
- Offensive Inconsistency – As Jon Manson mentioned in his article, “Week in Review: Army”, the play calling in the first half was “interesting”. Rather than spreading the field with receivers B.J. Farrow, Damian King, and Antonio Gandy-Golden, the Flames started with a two receiver and two tight-end lineup. In an assumed effort to set the tone early running the ball, the Flames tossed their typical spread offense, and the Army defense gained early momentum by shutting down the run game. The confidence of the Army defense was obvious, as the Flames could not piece together a lengthy drive, and only 1 of Liberty’s first half possessions lasted longer than 2 minutes.
- Momentum Layover – As many Liberty fans hoped the Flames would carry some of the energy, from last week’s historic victory over Old Dominion, into Saturday’s game, the early fumble on the first drive of the game deflated the Flames’ offense, and Liberty unfortunately, contributed to the old narrative of playing poorly after a huge, emotional victory. The lack of energy was evident, and the Liberty defense was drained from spending so much time on the field. In regards to the lack of energy, Liberty Defensive Coordinator Robert Wimberly, said, “I thought we were very sound early in the game. As the plays kept going, bodies started to wear down.”
- Positives – Despite all of the negative takeaways from Saturday’s game, the Flames have a few positives moving forward. Quarterback Buckshot Calvert finished that game strong with 307 passing yards, his ninth career 300-yard passing game. Calvert threw for 2 touchdowns, and is now the fourth quarterback in school history with 50 or more career touchdowns passes. Also, after serving a 1-game suspension in Liberty’s season opener, senior receiver Damian King showed no signs of rust, leading the Flames with a career high 172 receiving yards, marking his second career 100-yard receiving game, and a touchdown. Additionally, the Flames will have a week off due to Hurricane Florence, then their next game will be at home against North Texas.
Next Opponent: North Texas Mean Green
Date: Saturday, Sept. 21, 2018
Location: Lynchburg, Va. (Williams Stadium)
Radio: LFSN Radio (The Journey 88.3 FM Lynchburg)
TV: ESPN3 (LFSN TV Production)
Kickoff: 6:06 p.m.