The Presbyterian Blue Hose (2-4, 0-1 Big South) will play host to the Liberty Flames (1-4, 1-0) on Saturday afternoon for their annual homecoming game at 2:00.

Presbyterian RB Lance Byrd

This is the first season the Blue Hose are eligible for the Big South Conference championship after making the jump to Division I from Division II. Presbyterian is coming off a loss in their first Big South Conference game this past Saturday, falling to VMI 17-7 in Lexington, VA.

Presbyterian is coming off the 2011 season where they saw significant improvement from previous seasons. They finished the 2011 season 4-7 overall and 3-3 in the Big South, their best marks since transitioning from Division II. In last season’s meeting, the Blue Hose pushed Liberty to double overtime before finally succumbing 27-20 in Lynchburg. Following the game in Lynchburg, Presbyterian finished the season with 3 impressive outings as they fell to Coastal Carolina 15-8 before demolishing both VMI and Charleston Southern to close the season. After this finish to the season, many expected Presbyterian to make a push towards the top half of the conference. However, this has not been the case thus far. Presbyterian’s 2 wins have come at the hands of Brevard College and non-scholarship Davidson.

The Blue Hose defensive statistics are horrendous as they rank #109 (out of 121) in FCS in total defense giving up 464 yards per game. Their rush defense ranks #117 giving up 259 yards per game, and the defense is allowing 31 points per game. The lone bright spot, if you want to call it that, is the Blue Hose pass defense ranks 56th in FCS.

Presbyterian’s offense has performed slightly better than their defense as they rank in the top 100 in all major statistical categories. Scoring offense is #96 at 17 points per game. The Blue Hose have yet to settle on a quarterback as they have bounced back and forth between two redshirt freshman thus far. Presbyterian’s head coach Harold Nichols stated earlier this week that he is still unsure who will be his starting quarterback this Saturday. Returning starter Ryan Singer was suspended during the offseason and ended up leaving school. The top 2 quarterbacks are Tamyn Garrick and Kaleb Griffin. Both played against VMI last week. This season, Garrick is 66/133 for 768 yards, two touchdowns, and six interceptions. Griffin is 23/43 for 248 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. Presbyterian’s top running back is Lance Byrd who has 392 yards. Demarcus Rouse has six rushing touchdowns.

Liberty’s head coach Turner Gill stated there are 2 main keys to the game: to be +2 in turnover margin and improve on explosive plays. He defined explosive plays as being “runs for more than 10 yards and passes for more than 20 yards.” Gill says he wants to average 8 explosive plays per game on offense, and only give up 3 on defense. Liberty is currently allowing 6.6 per game on defense, and Coach Gill emphasized this must improve as the season continues.

Liberty should be able to control the line of scrimmage and time of possession while pounding the football with Aldreakis Allen and Sirchauncey Holloway. Mix in another solid performance from Josh Woodrum, and the defensive secondary having a week of experience under their belt (namely Kenny Scott and Sorie Bayoh), and Liberty should continue in their pursuit of the 2012 Big South Championship.

Liberty 35
Presbyterian 21

Go Flames!