Liberty walks away from their home opener with a 56-31 victory on Saturday against Division 2 Brevard. The Tornadoes defense was totally incapable of slowing the Flames’ offense down, as Josh Woodrum led the team to a commanding 21-0 lead in the first quarter. However, Brevard’s triple option attack found a groove, and gashed Liberty for 400 yards on the ground. In the end, Brevard’s defense was unable to give their offense an opportunity to get back into the game, and Liberty finished the game with 625 yards of total offense.
The Liberty offense had an outstanding game. The only reason they wouldn’t get an A+ grade, is simply the level of competition. It’s difficult to take too many lessons out of this contest for the Flames, as a Division 2 opponent simply is not equipped to match up with the type of talent Liberty possesses. Josh Woodrum had a great game, going 14-16 for 327 yards and 4 TD’s. D.J. Abnar was also able to shine Saturday night, rushing for 161 yards and 2 TD’s. The offensive line dominated at the point of attack, and Brevard was simply over matched from the start. Things will be much tougher against a 3-0 Bryant squad that is fresh off an upset against #20 Maine.
I struggled to grade Liberty’s defense on Saturday. On the surface, the performance was terrible. Giving up 400 yards on the ground is never good, even against a triple option attack. On top of that, it was against a Division 2 opponent. The tackling was poor, and the Flames had difficulty sticking to assignments. Turner Gill stated during the week that stopping the Fullback would be the top priority for the defense, but Liberty was unable to do that. FB Jordan Ollis ripped the Flames for 168 yards and 3 TD’s. Defensive Coordinator Robert Wimberly stated in the post game that he had not significantly changed LU’s defensive formations and personnel for this game, and that could be a large factor in the result. The triple option system is very unique and poses challenges the Flames will not face for the rest of the season. So perhaps Liberty’s defense, which performed wonderfully last week, should be extended some grace for this week’s performance. Nevertheless, where the rubber meets the road, this was a match up of Division 1 athletes versus Division 2 athletes. The D-1 players should be finding a way to stop the D-2 team. Liberty’s defense rarely found a way to do that Saturday, so for this week, they get a D.
Special Teams C+
Special teams weren’t a big factor in this one. John Lunsford returned from a 2 game suspension, and performed well on kickoff duties. He was able to score 6 touchbacks on 9 kicks, and was perfect on PAT attempts. However, Lunsford missed his only field goal attempt, missing wide right from 45 yards out. As we have come to expect from Lunsford, the kick had plenty of leg, but accuracy appears to remain an issue for the Junior.