If you have paid attention to Liberty Football twitter since Saturday night’s loss to Louisiana, the twitter mob is out in force against Buckshot Calvert. He has struggled through the first two games of the season, more than a 4th year starter should, but Hugh Freeze says he’s sticking by him.
“We haven’t progressed exactly as far as I would have hoped in that regard yet,” Freeze said on Monday afternoon in his weekly press conference when asked about Calvert. “I believe in him. I told him that last night. ‘I believe in you.'”
Through the first two games, Buckshot is 41-of-76 passing (53.9%) for 446 yards, 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. It’s also the plays that aren’t in the stat book that are so frustrating – the overthrows when receivers are open, the happy feet he gets when pressure is barrelling down on him, the misreads on RPO plays, not running to pick up a first down when able to, etc. He’s also had periods when he’s been very productive like the opening drive Saturday against Louisiana.
“I went through that whole first drive with him like 3 times,” Freeze said. “‘This is what we’re doing. This is what we’re doing on the first drive.’ And it looked like clockwork, but I can’t do that for the whole game unless I get on that sideline and then I can do some more of that, but it’s very hard. He knows it, that’s the frustrating thing. We’ve got to get through. He knows it. I think it will help if I can get down there and before we take the field say, ‘here’s the things I’m thinking about. Let’s talk through them real quick.’ He’s a little distracted by pressure. We’ve got to fix some protection issues. It’s not all on him by any means. We’ve got to continue to work on him.”
Freeze went into detail about one situation on Liberty’s last drive of the first half when the game was tied at 14.
“We (had) a great opportunity to go in at half either up 3 or up 7 or worst case 14-14. I’m usually a pretty good manager of the clock. I’m clear, ‘this is what we’re going to do and worst case it’s going to be 14-14 and we’re going to half. Here is what we’re going to run. We’re all clear, right?'”
“We go first down. I couldn’t see the clock where I was sitting, Kent (Austin) is watching the clock for me. “Tell me when it’s 20 seconds on the play clock. Alright, call another one.'”
“Boom. 2nd and 5.”
“‘Alright, tell me when there’s 20 seconds on the play clock.'”
“Boom. First down.”
“We’re across the 50-yard line and I’m thinking this is perfect. We’re going to, worst case, run this clock out, get a field goal, get a touchdown. I had a shot play in mind if we ever had that shot if the clock was stopped, but as long as that clock was running we were going to continue on. We’re rolling along, 2nd and 5 and we call a play that we’ve run at least 400 times in spring and fall. For some reason it goes to the wrong side of the coverage and we get an intentional grounding and now it’s 3rd and 15 and we go into halftime down 21-14.”
“As soon as he goes to the sideline, I’m saying, ‘Give him the headset. Buckshot, just tell me what you saw?'”
“Coach, I went to the wrong side.”
“He knew it. He knows it. I think it will help if I can get down there and before we take the field say, ‘Here are the things I’m thinking about and let’s talk through them real quick.'”
Until Coach Freeze is able to get back on the sideline, he’s considering moving QB coach Kent Austin from the press box to the sidelines.
“We’ve talked about that scenario,” Freeze said of moving Austin to the sideline. “I would expect one of us to be on that sideline Saturday.”
Scoring only 14 points through the first two games is not good enough for the team to be successful this season, and if it continues additional changes will happen. But Freeze says he’s not to that point yet. True freshman Johnathan Bennett is his backup and doing his best to prepare to be ready if he’s called on.
“It’s too early for me to say that,” Freeze said of giving Bennett more reps. “I’m not ready at all to say that that’s the case. We will continue to prepare him in practice. There’s some things that I hope to see out of Buckshot this week that could start changing that in my mind.”