I had a chance to meet with Liberty head football coach Turner Gill this afternoon to discuss a variety of topics. Over the next several days, we will go into more detail on some of his comments, but, in the meantime, here are some of his main thoughts.
1. Gill touts improvement from last year.
“Overall, to sit here and say we had a disappointing season, (I’m) disappointed we didn’t make the playoffs, but we did improve because we did have a lot of adjustments that went on.” Some of the adjustments Gill mentioned were having to bring in a true freshman quarterback, having a new offensive coordinator, and numerous injuries, particularly on the offensive line.
2. Excitement around Buckshot’s future.
The Flames have their starting quarterback firmly entrenched for the next 3 seasons. Calvert finished his true freshman campaign 150/262 passing for 1,931 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. “The exciting thing is we have 3 years left for him to play. So, I know there’s going to be some great football and our fans should be excited about the future having Buckshot Calvert as our quarterback.”
3. O-Line injuries were too much to overcome.
As we chronicled throughout the season, the Flames had countless injuries at offensive line all season. It forced Coach Gill and offensive line coach Dennis Wagner to constantly change the starting group and rotation throughout the season. Ultimately, Gill said, it caught up to them at the end of the year. “Every team has injuries, we just kind of got the bulk of it at one position, and it was tough for us to overcome. We’ll bounce back and be ready to go.” Gill also states that he thinks the team will have more depth at offensive line next season.
4. Talking about the suspensions.
Liberty had several guys suspended off and on throughout the season, and even had 3 members of the football team kicked out of school. “We’ve always told our guys, ‘you have choices, you have decisions, and there’s consequences. You have to live up to those things, and (if not) we’ll (punish you) appropriately.'”
5. Keys to catching Charleston Southern.
The Buccaneers have firmly entrenched themselves as the team to beat in the Big South. Under 4th-year head coach Jamey Chadwell’s leadership, CSU has won consecutive Big South Championships and earned the league’s automatic bid to the playoffs in 2015 and 2016. Prior to his time at Charleston Southern, the Bucs had beaten the Flames just 3 times in 20 meetings. Liberty has now lost 3 straight to CSU. How do the Flames catch Charleston Southern? “I think, for us, it’s just to stay healthy (and) get better in all areas. I think the key thing too is the quarterback play continue to improve and the o-line and d-line.”
6. “Thursday was not a good day.”
Gill admitted there is some uncertainty with no Athletic Director in place, but says he will “just keep working, I just keep doing. I know what the plan we have (is).” He went on to say, “Thursday was not a good day for all of us in a whole lot of different ways. You know, I just want to say, really with Jeff, a person who really, I thank him for giving me an opportunity here. (Thursday) was kind of a tough day for me, and I did text him when I heard the news and just wished him nothing but the best.” Gill also said he was still “a little emotional about it.”
We’ll have much more in the days ahead from our discussion with Coach Gill, so stay tuned!