The Liberty Flames got their best win of the season to this point, defeating Troy, 22-16, to even their record at 3-3 on the season. The Trojans were 9 point favorites entering the game.
WHAT IT MEANS
The Flames continue their up and down season as they bounce back from a disappointing loss at New Mexico State last week. The win over Troy is arguably the best team Liberty has ever beaten. The Trojans received 8 votes in last week’s USA Today Coaches’ poll and had a 5 game winning streak and 7 game road losing streak snapped. It also improves the Flames’ record to 3-0 all-time against Sun Belt opponents. As we all know, Liberty and the Sun Belt flirted with membership when the Flames were still in the FCS. Ultimately, the Sun Belt presidents did not vote Liberty into the conference, and ended up extending an invitation to Coastal Carolina. Any win over a Sun Belt team will always feel good.
After allowing over 500 yards of offense to each of its previous 4 opponents, Liberty’s defense came through with a great performance, holding Troy to 293 yards, while forcing 3 takeaways and totaling 4 sacks. The Flames have 9 takeaways this season, and all have come in the team’s 3 wins. The 4 sacks are a season high as Liberty entered the game with 5 total sacks on the season.
The biggest adjustment Coach Gill and Wimberly alluded to this week was Wimberly moving to the press box from the field. It was the first time he coached from the press box since his 2nd season as a coach. Josh Bookbinder and Marshall Roberts moved from the press box to the field. Wimberly said this allowed him to see things better, and he could get the play call in about 2 or 3 seconds quicker.
With Antonio Gandy-Golden missing Saturday’s game with mono, it left the Flames pretty thin at wide receiver. In addition to AGG, Damian King and JT Wood also missed the game due to injury while Kevin Shaa is redshirting. Coach Gill said it was late Thursday when he found out AGG would be unable to go, but his absence didn’t change the offenses game plan.
Punter Aidan Alves struggled once again, as 2 of his punts traveled just 9 yards with another one going 21 yards. On the day, he finished with an average of 28 yards per punt on his 9 punts. Fortunately, none of his poor punts cost the team the game.
Liberty plays its first of two FCS opponents next week as the Flames play host to Idaho State. The Bengals are 4-2 on the season and Liberty will be the 2nd FBS team Idaho State has played this season. ISU also played California, losing 45-23. They’ve also played Idaho, who was an FBS team last year, but is in the process of transitioning back to the FCS, beating the Vandals, 62-25. Idaho State is coming off an overtime loss to UC Davis, 44-37.
Idaho State competes in the Big Sky and are hoping to make their first FCS playoff appearance since 1983. They are averaging 37.2 points per game, and feature a balanced attack. The Bengals are rushing for over 240 yards per game and passing for 224 yards per game.
BY THE NUMBERS
300 | Liberty held Troy below 300 total yards of offense, the first time holding an opponent below 300 total yards since November 5, 2016 at Presbyterian when the Blue Hose totaled just 175 yards.
200 | Juwan Wells passed the 200 career tackles mark with 201 for his career, first time a Flame has surpassed 200 tackles since Nick Newman graduated with 236 career tackles in 2016
19 | B.J. Farrow moved into 5th place in program history with 19 career touchdown receptions.
7,188 | Buckshot passed Brock Smith for 4th place on the all-time career passing yard list with 7,188.
THEY SAID IT
Flames head coach Turner Gill on the adjustments made on defense this week:
“I’m really proud of the defensive staff, we kind of made a few adjustments. We moved coach Wimberly upstairs in the press box. We moved Marshall Roberts and Josh Bookbinder down on the field because we thought we could get things done a little better. I didn’t know if the team would respond this quickly in the adjustments we made. Obviously we made some adjustments in practice too and our guys bought in and they were eager and paid attention to detail.”
Coach Gill on why he went for it on 4th down instead of kicking a FG in the final minute of the game:
“Didn’t want to take a risk of a block and them running it back. It’s riskier to go for a field goal and a block than running the ball like we did.”
B.J. Farrow on his game winning touchdown catch:
“Coach trusted me to go make a play for Buck. Buck put it up for me to make it and in practice all week we made plays. Coaches always tell us that we have to go attack the ball and just make the play when it is there.”
Troy Head Coach Neal Brown on his team’s loss:
“That was bad football. I don’t know how else to say it. Bad football on the coaches, on the players, the entire organization.”
LU offensive coordinator Joe Dailey on his game plan:
“That’s a really good defense, well coached defense, with some phenomenal football players. They’ve played a lot of football. They’ve beat some big time football teams. You have to be very methodical, every down counts, every snap counts in a game like that. Our game plan was we were going to run the football, have the RPOs built in to it, we were going to exhaust the clock. We were going to make sure every play we call was going to be a down hill play and we were going to be advantageous numbers wise.”
LU defensive coordinator Robert Wimberly on moving to the press box:
“My wife has been on me for about 2 years about going to the box, so I have to give her credit. I was able to see it better. I was able to see what their mindset was. At halftime, I felt more comfortable than I have in a long time. I’m so proud of our staff and our guys. I’m excited about where we’re headed.”
Buckshot on AGG being out:
“We can’t rely on just one guy, we have to be able to spread it around to each guy individually.”
Defensive end Jayod Sanders on making the most of his opportunities:
“I don’t get playing time the majority of the season. I just need to make the most of every opportunity I have and work hard in practice.”
Wide receiver Khaleb Coleman on his first career touchdown reception:
“It meant a lot. I want to thank God and my coaches for the opportunity. I’ve been working hard and the coaches have been believing in me.”