Wouldn’t change the 4th & 1 call
The turning point of Saturday’s game at Virginia was Gill’s decision to go for it on 4th and 1 at the Flames’ own 14 yard line. At that point, the score was 31-24, and after the Cavaliers got the stop and score all the momentum had shifted UVA’s way. The play that was called was the same play that Liberty used to convert on a 4th and 1 near midfield in the 1st quarter.
“Wouldn’t change anything,” Gill said of the 4th down call. “I’m glad that we went for it, got to be aggressive, got to do things to help our chance for our team to win. That’s what I thought best and I wouldn’t change anything.”
Offensive coordinator Joe Dailey agreed with that assessment. “I thought it was a solid call by Coach Gill for us to go for it. We were all, as a program, fired up and excited to go for it again in our own territory. I wouldn’t change anything about the play, the play call. The gentleman who made a break on the football did a phenomenal job. I thought we had the right play, whether we handed it off or we threw it out there. There was leverage to throw it, and they had 1 more guy in the box than we had to be able to account for and block it up. So, we were good with the decision for him to throw the ball. Talented football players can read and recognize things and make a play, and that’s what he did.”
Flames’ hoping to build towards being an elite program
As Liberty prepares to play its first ever SEC opponent in front of what will likely be the largest crowd to ever see a Liberty football game, the Flames’ have aspirations of building towards becoming an elite program.
“This is the standard,” defensive coordinator Robert Wimberly said about playing an SEC team. “This is what Liberty’s building towards to be an elite football program.”
Gill says the biggest challenge the Auburn Tigers will present is their speed. “Can we match that speed, can we match that strength? I guess we will find out here Saturday.”
There are numerous connections between the Liberty and Auburn football programs, more so than you might would expect between a team from Lynchburg, Virginia and Alabama.
Gill coached with Auburn’s defensive coordinator Kevin Steele at Nebraska for 3 seasons in the early 90s when Steele was LB coach for the Cornhuskers and Gill was QB coach. Auburn’s offensive line coach J.B. Grimes was Gill’s OL coach for his 2 seasons at Kansas.
Additionally, defensive end Jessie Lemonier’s brother, Corey, was an all-SEC linebacker for the Tigers from 2010-2012 before being drafted by the 49ers.
Redshirt-sophomore Mitchell Lewis is from Auburn, Alabama where he was a 4 year letter-winner at Lee-Scott Academy.
Flames’ going to AL with the intent to win a football game
Despite being nearly a 30 point underdog, Liberty’s coaches and players say they are going to Auburn to win a football game. Coach Wimberly’s quote summed it up best:
“Enjoying the moment is going in there focused and getting ready to win a game. That’s how I look at it. I’m not going to tell young men to go in there and be in awe and this is SEC football. I’m going in there to execute and go win a football game. That’s my mindset. That’s always been my mindset. I think as you look back, you may say that was a great opportunity, but when we step on that field at 3:01 PM Central Standard Time, we’re going there to win a football game. We’re not going there just to say, oh we made it against Auburn and we’re glad we’re here. No, no, no, we’re going to be locked and loaded to do our very best to represent this University in a great way to go win a football team. We’re going int here trying to win a football game against a very good football team.”
After missing the previous 5 games, wide receiver Damian King is listed as probable. Offensive lineman is Ethan Crawford is doutbful with an upper body injury.. Safety Cheapell Morris is out with an upper body injury. Morris was on the sidelines in street clothes against Virginia. Coach Gill said he suffered an injury against UMass.
Kicker Alex Probert will not play against Auburn, according to Gill. Probert missed the first 6 games of the season. Gill didn’t say whether or not he re-aggravated an injury, but did say “it’s a possibility of redshirt.” Probert, a true junior, could play one more game this season and still redshirt due to the new NCAA rules.