The Flames won’t open summer camp for several weeks, so it’s a perfect time to start looking ahead to the teams Liberty will face during the upcoming season as they attempt to return to the FCS playoffs for the 2nd consecutive year.
We’ve already previewed the Flames’ first two opponents, Delaware State and West Virginia, and now we turn our attention to their next opponent, Montana. Liberty hosts Montana on September 19th. Kickoff is 7pm.
2014 record: 9-5, 6-2 in Big Sky, lost to Eastern Washington in 2nd round of FCS Playoffs.
Coach: Bob Stitt, in his first season.
Starters returning: Seven on offense, six on defense, three on special teams.
Offensive system: Spread, but this is a special type of spread.
Defensive system: 4-3.
Three significant stats last year:
- Montana ranked 3rd in FCS in turnover margin, forcing 25 turnovers on the season.
- The Grizzlies were one of the better scoring defenses in the country and tops in the Big Sky, surrendering 21 points per game.
- Montana was very efficient in the red zone, scoring on 89% of their opportunities, just slightly behind Liberty’s 89.7% scoring rate.
Key starters returning:
- Jamaal Jones led Montana in receiving last season with 67 catches, 1,044 yards, and 8 touchdowns.
- Running back John Nguyen was a do-it-all weapon for the Grizz last season, totaling 265 rushing yards, 303 punt return yards, and 416 kick return yards.
- All 3 starters at linebacker return in Kendrick Van Ackeren, Jeremiah Kose, and Herbert Gamboa. Each one went for over 100 tackles individually and combined for 24.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks.
How does Montana match up
This will be a game featuring two top 20 (maybe higher) teams in the FCS. The Flames will be seeking revenge from their loss at Montana in Turner Gill’s first season, while the Grizzlies will be adjusting to life under new head coach Bob Stitt. The game will likely be decided by which offense has more success than the other as both teams are expected to have explosive offenses. It’s also one of the more anticipated nonconference games at Williams Stadium in recent memory.