A list of things to keep an eye on during the game tonight:
It seems so cliché, but it is true especially in this game where Liberty is the underdog. Kent State was one of the 5 best teams in the entire country last season at turnover margin; whereas, Liberty had a negative turnover margin. If the Flames want to prevail Thursday night, they must win the turnover battle.
Don’t get behind early
Turner Gill & company must start fast. If the Flames fall behind early, it will let Kent State’s redshirt-freshman QB Colin Reardon settle in, and coach Haynes feed the rock to Archer and Durham. This would be a recipe for disaster. Liberty must push this game into the 4th quarter where the team, crowd, coaching staff, and freshman QB could all get rattled.
Coach Gill stated in his press conference on Tuesday that the Flames must win “4 or 5” of the 6 facets of special teams, and Liberty has experience here with Grant Bowden and John Lunsford. Also, if returners Kevin Fogg and D.J. Abnar can continue to give Liberty a short field to work with, the offense would have better opportunities to put points on the board.
Gabe Henderson playing at Kent State
Buried amongst pre-game chatter is the fact that starting Liberty receiver Gabe Henderson gets a chance to play at Kent State, a school he committed to in high school before switching to Liberty. You know he will be pumped and looking to make a statement.
How many true freshman will play? Coach Gill said “5 or 6” will likely play. Look for JaRon Greene, Nick Newman, Wesley Scott, and Gary Sampson to all see time against Kent State.
How will the Receivers fare?
Subject of much debate has been Liberty’s inexperienced wide receivers. Darrin Peterson, Dante Shells, and Gabe Henderson get their first shot to quiet the naysayers.
How will the running backs perform without Aldreakis Allen? Turner Gill said Des Rice, Clifton Richardson, and D.J. Abnar will all get carries against Kent State with Rice getting the majority. Neither have gotten significant carries with the Flames, and their first challenge is against an FBS school.
It’s just a matter of hours now until kickoff.
Full Kent State week coverage: