Apr 20, 2010

Football springs back into action

by Jordan LoSasso

The concrete slabs and wooden framework construction engulfing Williams Stadium represented the same thing as the players on the field Saturday for the 2010 spring game – the future of Liberty football.

With quarterback Mike Brown finally a permanent fixture under center, several young and talented running backs in Aldreakis Allen, SirChauncey Holloway and Korrey Davis, as well as a group of gifted wide receivers, Liberty football has lofty expectations.

“I think that some of the biggest playmaking threats are underclassmen,” Head Coach Danny Rocco said. “All the running backs are back and all are guys that have two, three or four years of eligibility left. We have a lot of skill on offense that offers a bright future for us.”

With a defense that single handedly defeated the highly touted offense 38-25 without giving up a touchdown, and in a game that usually features an offensive blowout, the future may come sooner rather than later.

“Everybody is hungry out there to win and to make plays for our team. Our main goal is to make the playoffs and the big picture is a national championship. We are ready for it this year,” junior wide receiver Chris Summers said.

Summers, who caught four passes for 35 yards, is expected to play a dynamic role in the Flames offense as he continues to improve his strength, explosion and speed.

“Chris Summers has a chance to be an All-American caliber football player. He’s got size and he has developed strength and speed,” Rocco said. “He is not just a catch and fall down guy. He’s can catch and run with the ball. He is a threat after the catch. I thought he had a great spring.”

However, Summers couldn’t do much to stop Brent Vinson’s game changing interception thrown by Brown on an out pass in the flat, which according to Rocco, won the game for the defense. Vinson returned the interception 25 yards before being caught from behind by Brown.

“I got a better 40 than he did. He just had the angle. If we’re racing, I’m going to get him,” Vinson joked. “I thought he (Rocco) was about to tackle me too. I was like what is coach doing?”

The defensive dominance came as a surprise. For most of the spring practices the roles have been reversed, with the offense taking care of the defense, which built up an in-house rivalry between the opposing sides.

After the defense struggled to alleviate the offensive barrage of long runs and deep passes in a scrimmage the previous Saturday, the locker room chatter caught fire.

“Last Saturday, they exploded on us. They were throwing deep balls all over our heads, so they were a little cocky all week. We just told them it was going to be our day. We were going to shut them down,” Vinson said. “We were saying what we are going to do to them, and they were saying what they are going to do.”

Shutting down the offense is precisely what the defense did – only allowing 331 total yards on 82 plays for average gain of 4.0 yards per play.

The blue clad defense turned some heads by forcing six punts and only allowing one field goal. They also added three turnovers and seven sacks en route to its triumph over the offense.

“I was really happy with the intensity of the defense. It’s one of those things that happens when you don’t go live every day. You don’t know exactly what it is going to feel like. It had the look that I wanted it to have,” Rocco said. “They pressured the quarterback, and they played the ball deep down the field. I am happy the defense did rise to the challenge today.”

However, the offense’s most lethal weapon, Brown who completed 15 of 27 passes for 138 yards and added 19 rushing yards, wearing a red, no contact jersey. Getting an accurate account of just how stifling the defense was on Saturday is a difficult assessment.

“It’s tough not being live, especially in some of the sack situations. But that’s part of the game, I guess,” Brown said.
“Mike Brown could have made a play at anytime but at the expense of what?” Rocco said.

The expense on Saturday was the first blue jersey victory since 2007.

Contact Jordan LoSasso
at jlosasso@liberty.edu.

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