It’s all I keep hearing. The defense lost the game. They couldn’t stop anyone. And it’s hard to disagree with when looking at the numbers. 38 points to Charleston Southern. 576 total yards. 7 yards per rush.
Can I say there’s much more to it than the numbers though? Can I say Woodrum’s absence is mostly to blame for the defense’s blunders? Hear me out…
We find out late Friday that Josh isn’t going to play, and a redshirt-freshman with virtually zero experience will get the nod in mid-November against a game Charleston Southern squad. That’s tough for anyone. So, Liberty gets the ball first, and thanks primarily to a 35 yard run by Masha, takes the lead on a 51-yard field goal by Lunsford. 3-0 Flames.
CSU’s first drive goes 54 yards and ends in a Jacob Hagen interception. Defense did its job.
2 plays later, Masha is intercepted and the Buccaneers take over at midfield. CSU’s second drive goes 35 yards and ends in a missed field goal. Defense did its job.
3 plays later, Masha is intercepted and the Bucs take over in Liberty territory at the 38. The drive ends in a touchdown 7 plays later. Hard to fault the defense too much for these points with a short field for the 2nd consecutive drive.
Flames respond with a 2:49 drive and a touchdown as Liberty retakes the lead at 10-7. CSU’s fourth drive is a 3 & out. Defense did its job.
Liberty proceeds to go 3 & out, and Charleston Southern takes over at midfield. The next play Christian Reyes takes the ball 52 yards to the house, 14-10 CSU. You can fault the defense here if you like, but by this point the defense had been on the field 13 of the 22 minutes.
On the ensuing drive, Liberty is forced to punt, and CSU takes over at their own 21. 2 plays later, Kenny Scott picks off Austin Brown. Defense did its job.
Liberty responds with a 4 play, 61 yard drive (only took 1:41), to retake the lead at 16-14. Due to Darrin Peterson’s unsportsmanlike penalty for spiking the ball on his touchdown catch, CSU fields the short kickoff and returns it to midfield. It took the Bucs 11 plays to go 40 yards and they had to settle for a field goal. I would argue the defense held up well on this drive.
That’s the entire first half. Charleston Southern had 7 drives and scored on 3 of them. All 3 of the scoring drives were short fields due to Liberty turnovers and a penalty.
It is my opinion that the Liberty defense did admirably in the first half given the circumstances. And if Woodrum was healthy and playing, I think it’s safe to say those circumstances would have been different. So, as you have #beatCoastal on your mind this week, don’t entirely blame Liberty’s defense for its loss to Charleston Southern.