The Liberty Flames return to Williams Stadium for the first time in over a month when they play host to New Mexico State on Saturday at 2pm. It is a rematch from Liberty’s 49-41 loss at NMSU on October 6th.

After facing a first-time opponent in 8 of the team’s first 10 games, including the Aggies, the Flames’ coaching staff is looking forward to facing a familiar foe.

“This game is exciting,” Coach Gill said of Saturday’s showdown. “We have some familiarity with them. (It’s) even more exciting as we play them two more times again next year.”

Defensive coordinator Robert Wimberly echoed those sentiments. “It’s refreshing to play a team that you have some familiarity with.”

This has led to quicker preparation for Liberty’s coaching staff as they didn’t have to do as much research on the opponent’s personnel and coaches.

“The first two series on both sides of the ball,” Gill said when discussing the rematch. “What are we going to do, and how are we going to do things? Are we going to do things different than the first time we played them, and the same thing with them?”

“I spoke with some friends at this level and the level above about playing an opponent a 2nd or 3rd time in a season,” offensive coordinator Joe Dailey said. “Any subtle adjustments they may have shown, is what you want to focus on. At this point in the season, you are who you are. Your identity will not change. YOu can look at some things that you did really well and try to compliment those things. This week is all about editing what took place in the prebious game against those guys, and correcting it and making it right this go around.”

Much like the first meeting, where the two teams combined for 90 points and 1,085 yards of offense, this episode could be a high scoring affair. The Flames and Aggies are two of seven FBS teams yielding 40+ points per game this season.

“They have stuck with the quarterback (Josh) Adkins since we played them last time,” Gill said. “That was his first start, the first time we played them. He’s played very well, they continue to move the football.”

Adkins threw for 402 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Flames back in October. He has now thrown for over 2,200 yards in 9 games on the season.

“When we played them the first time they changed it up on us with the quarterback Adkins,” said Wimberly. “They have pretty much stayed the same with utilizing his skill-set. He does a very good job to be a freshman, to be able to read coverages, and go through his progressions. He’s not going to make silly mistakes with the football. I’ve been really impressed with how he’s improved each week.”

“We missed too many tackles, caused them to have too many explosive plays,” Gill said of the first meeting with NMSU. “That’s the thing I know that we’ve improved on from the previous game.”

Against Virginia and Auburn, Liberty’s defensive game plan adjusted slightly to give opposing receivers plenty of room to make catches. The thought process is to help keep the ball in front of the Liberty defenders to hopefully prevent explosive plays.

“I’m very excited in how we improved over the last couple of weeks in keeping the ball in front (of us),” Wimberly said.

Frankie Hickson had a career day in Las Cruces earlier this season. The Liberty running back rushed for a career-high 155 yards and 1 touchdown. Buckshot Calvert threw for 365 yards and 2 touchdowns. His favorite target was DJ Stubbs who caught 11 passes for 115 yards. Antonio Gandy-Golden also had 115 receiving yards.

Calvert has thrown for an interception in each of the past 9 games including 11 picks in the previous 4 contests. Coach Dailey hasn’t lost confidence in his signal caller.

“He’s naturally confident,” Dailey said. “I have no reservations about his talent, his ability, and neither does he. There are going to be days that the other team just has your number. Nothing’s going to change. He wants to be better, there’s no doubt about that. He’s an internally motivated kid. He doesn’t need me to get him fired up. My job is to get him coached up.”

With it being Thanksgiving week and no classes, Gill has adjusted the team’s practice schedule this week. Most notably, the team practiced in the morning on Thursday before having a team Thanksgiving lunch with the entire team, coaches and staff, student workers, and family members. Players that live locally or within a drive-able distance were allowed to return home Thanksgiving afternoon before returning for a normal schedule Friday afternoon.

“It’s definitely exciting to have an opportunity to go against New Mexico State again,” Wimberly said. “The first time out we didn’t play well.”


Liberty 38, New Mexico State 31

The Flames will return to the win column for the first time in over a month and garner a split in the season series with the Aggies.