Apr 21, 2009

White squad has defense feeling “blue”

by Jordan LoSasso

Liberty football kicked off its 2009 campaign with the annual spring game, while touting new faces in key positions.

Donning the white jerseys, the offense cruised in the first half to a 32-11 advantage, and defeated the blue-clad defense 42-25.
The first half surge by the offense was unexpected due to the defensive performances displayed throughout spring practice.

“The defense out-performed our offense this spring. They have more experience and looked strong all spring,” Head Coach Danny Rocco said.

A 15-play 70-yard drive opened the contest that featured 11 running plays, and fullback Derek Bishop capped the series with a 1-yard touchdown run.

The offense’s second scoring drive was highlighted by quarterback Spencer Landis’ 20-yard scramble on a third-and-16 play. Running back Terron Lawrence finished the drive with a 2-yard run.

For the third consecutive possession, the offense beat the defense for another touchdown. Quarterback Tyler Brennan completed a 63-yard pass to wide receiver Zach Duke that set up another 1-yard touchdown run that was converted by running back Courtney Anderson.

“Deep down I was rooting for the offense so I’m glad they played well,” Rocco said. “I’m pleased they were able to put drives together, convert on third down and score some touchdowns.”

“Whenever you’re in blue it feels like you’re set up for the white to do well,” linebacker Wes Cheek joked. “But they did a lot of good things today.”

Halftime celebrated the Samkon Gado award for most improved offensive and defensive player, the Luke 2:52 Award for the graduating senior who best represents the program’s Whole Person Development ambition, and it honored the new team captains.

Bishop and linebacker Doncel Bolt received the Samkon Gado Award, and Kevin Richard was named the winner of the program’s Luke 2:52 Award.

Rocco named offensive linemen Bryan Mosier and Josh Weaver, quarterback Mike Brown, defensive back Chris Rocco, defensive lineman Trey Jacobs and Cheek team captains.

“It caught me off guard but it’s a real privilege,” Brown said.

The second half of the game was dominated by defense, as expected. Liberty’s offense only tacked on 11 points in the half, while the defense accounted for 15 points.

The offense is in need of improvement before the start of the season as the players build team chemistry and betters its execution.

“We are still working on chemistry. A lot of the receivers are new and young. Chemistry is the biggest issue right now, and we have to keep working on it all summer,” wide receiver Ervin Garner said.

The defense is not worried about a lack of chemistry.

“A lot of the guys on defense came in together. We have been here for three years together and we have been through a lot. We have a big connection all around,” Cheeks said.

Brown started the game for the Flames, passing for 77 yards and rushing for 25 yards. Brown adds athleticism at quarterback that will allow the offense more options out of the backfield.

“Mike Brown is so exciting. He is a really exciting player and is very versatile. He is going to help us win a lot of games this year,” running back Danny Broggin said.

The arrival of South Carolina transfer Tommy Beecher will open the quarterback competition again this summer, though. Until then, the players are only focused on who they have on the team now.

“I’m just going to focus on myself and try to get myself as good as I can,” Brown said. “The situation should take care of itself. It’s up to Coach Rocco.”

“We got to worry about that when it comes, but that is not in our heads right now,” Garner said.

Anderson led the offense in rushing with 37 yards on seven carries, and Garner led the receivers with six receptions for 44 yards. For the defense, linebacker Jamal Giddens had a team-high seven tackles.

Contact Jordan LoSasso at
jlosasso@liberty.edu.

 


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