Gardner-Webb ranks near the bottom in nearly all major statistical categories (out of 121 teams): #109 in total defense, #115 in scoring defense, #102 in rush defense, #99 in pass defense, #113 in total offense, #111 in scoring offense, and #114 in rush offense.Though, they have tallied these numbers against solid competition in Wofford, Richmond, Samford and Pittsburgh. These 4 teams are a combined 13-5.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs have a stiff challenge as Liberty has won 15 consecutive conference home games on Liberty Mountain dating back to October 21, 2006. The last conference home loss? You guessed it, against Gardner-Webb in Danny Rocco’s first season as head coach. Turner Gill will look to keep that from happening to himself and earn his first victory as Liberty’s head coach.
Coach Gill announced during Tuesday’s media session that All-American kick returner and corner back Kevin Fogg is likely out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. Also announced, was that reserve corner back Ryan Ayers will also miss the Gardner-Webb game. Ayers was also the back-up punt returner. Liberty is now down to 3 cornerbacks who have gotten playing time this season – Walt Aikens, Kenny Scott, and Sorie Bayoh.
Jaquan Glover will handle punt return duties for the injured Fogg and Ayers. This will be his first college experience fielding punts. Gardner-Webb ranks #34 in the country in net punting, and will look to take advantage of Glover’s inexperience on Saturday.
GWU’s starting quarterback is Lucas Beatty who is 79/127 for 761 yards, 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions through the first 4 games. Beatty did suffer a knee injury at Pittsburgh, but is expected to play Saturday in Lynchburg.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs rushing attack is led by senior running back Kenny Little. Little has 203 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns, and is rushing for 3.4 yards per carry. Little was a preseason All-Big South selection at running back.
Gardner-Webb’s offensive line is led by 2 preseason All-Big South selections in seniors Steve Demilio and Jamie Dunaway.
The GWU defense is led by linebacker Tanner Burch who is leading the team with 46 tackles.
Which team will get off the snide this weekend? Liberty should be able to pound the ball on the ground with Aldreakis Allen and Sirchauncey Holloway against the GWU defense that is allowing 229 yards on the ground per game. As long as Liberty limits their turnovers, which has cost them each of their first 4 games, they should win this game in front of a large homecoming crowd.