Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Flames have Golden Flashes in sight

Liberty seeks to derail Heisman Trophy hopeful Dri Archer as it takes on Kent State in its season opener

In 2010, Liberty won its first game ever against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent, defeating Ball State 27-23 on Cardinal’s home field.

After falling short the previous two seasons against FBS foes, the Flames look to win their first season opener in three years, this time against the Kent State Golden Flashes.

Can it happen? — Liberty looks to shock FBS opponent Kent State. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

Last year, the Golden Flashes won 11 games, which is the most in their school’s history. This feat could not have been done without running back Dri Archer.

“We need to tackle well,” Liberty Head Coach Turner Gill said. “(Archer) is great in the open field. We need to slow him down early before he gets started.”

Archer finished the season ranked fifth in the NCAA FBS division with 1,981 all-purpose yards and 23 total touchdowns. With speed, elusiveness and a touch of instinct, Archer can create problems for any defense.

Archer is considered a 2013 Heisman Trophy candidate after gaining national recognition for his contributions last season.

“While they do have a great weapon in Archer, we have weapons as well,” Gill said. “We match up well with them and our defense should be ready.”

Quarterback Josh Woodrum leads a potent offense that returns four starting offensive lineman and adds University of Virginia transfer running back Clifton Richardson to an already deep backfield.

“(Woodrum) is a leader on this team,” Gill said. “With mostly everyone returning, including most of our starters on the line, our offense should be able to put points on the board.”

With an experienced offensive line led by Malcolm Boyd, who went down with a season-ending injury last season, the Flames look to keep defensive lineman Roosevelt Nix out of the backfield.

“We need to have good technique with blocking (Nix).” Gill said. “We want to neutralize him as well as their front seven.”

Nix was named to the Naguriski Award (best defensive player), Outland Award (best interior lineman) and Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) watch lists after recording 59 tackles, including 15 tackles for a loss and six sacks, a year ago.

Liberty defensive back Kevin Fogg also returns from a season-ending injury last year to an experienced secondary unit. Along with fellow senior Walt Aikens, the duo should be able to shut down any threat in the passing game.

Like Archer, Fogg also has the ability to make plays anywhere on the field. Fogg is known to lock down receivers, and has also returned seven kicks and punts for touchdowns during his career at Liberty.

The Flames seek to win their second straight game against a Mid-American Conference opponent when they meet the Golden Flashes Thursday, Aug. 29, at 6 p.m. on ESPN3.

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