Some initial thoughts following Liberty’s 24-21 win over #4 Coastal Carolina:
- The game plan that Josh Woodrum spoke so highly of at this week’s press conference was apparently to control the ball on offense to keep Alex Ross and the potent Chanticleer offense off the field. The Flames won the toss and elected to receive the ball, a rarity this season. Liberty had 45 carries on the night and finished with 150 rushing yards and dominated time of possession 40:52-19:08.
- Coach Gill said this week the Flames needed to rush for 150 yards to have a great chance to be competitive and win the game. Well, Liberty rushed for exactly 150 yards tonight.
- Flames opened with a 10 play, 71 yard drive that was Des Rice heavy. Rice had 7 carries for 34 yards and the 8-yard touchdown run on the drive. It was the best drive Liberty has had all season running the ball, and it set the tone for the game.
- De’Angelo Henderson went 71 yards untouched for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter, but other than that Liberty’s defense shut down the top Big South running back. Henderson had 10 carries for 18 yards with the exception of the 71 yard run.
- The Flames’ season high this season for first half rushing yardage is 141 yards against Georgia State. They nearly matched that total against the Chanticleers rushing for 108 yards on 25 carries.
- Chima Uzowihe went out on a high note in his final game in a Liberty uniform. The senior defensive end finished the game with 4 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 pass break up and within inches of a sack.
- Juwan Wells may end up being Chima’s replacement wreaking havoc from the defensive line. Wells 3 tackles and 2 tackles for loss on the night.
- The Flames won the turnover battle as they had the only takeaway on the evening, a Chris Turner interception. But, as we mentioned in our game preview & prediction this morning, the Chanticleers have done a terrific job on keeping opponents from scoring off turnovers. Tonight was no different as they forced the Flames into a quick 3 & out following the turnover.
- A stat that catches my eye: Liberty was 8/19 on 3rd downs while Coastal converted just 1 of their 9 3rd down opportunities.
- NFL scouts in attendance tonight from the Titans, Seahawks, and Jets. Several seniors on both teams will be getting serious NFL looks.
- Liberty finishes with final record of 6-5, marking the 10th consecutive season the Flames have finished with a winning record.
- The Flames now hold a slight 7-6 series lead against the Chanticleers with the last 3 games all being decided by 3 points or less.
- Under Coach Gill, Liberty now has 4 wins over Top 10 opponents including 2 this year. The Flames have won 6 of its past 9 games against top 25 opponents. Liberty improves to 13-2 in November under Gill with the only 2 losses coming against Charleston Southern.
- This season will end as a big “should have been.” This game should have been a matchup of top 10 teams with a first round bye in the playoffs on the line. This team should be entering the FCS playoffs for the 2nd consecutive season. They should be attempting to make a run at a national championship. They had the talent, but lacked the focus game in, game out.
- We will have much more on this game and the season in the coming days.
I liked the way Liberty played, this was what they should have been all year long. I also like their commitment to smashmouth football, it will enable them to win many FCS games in the Big South. They don’t have the dominant offensive line needed to really run their style of offense like the Michigans, Stanfords, ect. This should have been their year but things will be very interesting as we move on in the Big South with other programs catching up and growing. I honestly wish Coastal didn’t make that foolish jump to FBS so early and honestly not sure LU even really needs to make the jump right now. They will have plenty of interesting football to play in the very near future.