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Big South Opponent Previews: VMI
As Liberty's 2011 football training camp hits the midway point of its second week of training camp, LibertyFlames.com continues its Big South opponent previews.
During the month of August, LibertyFlames.com will release a brief look at each of Liberty's six Big South foes. The half-dozen opponents stand between the Flames and an unprecedented fifth-straight Big South Conference title.
Each preview will include a short write up about Liberty's conference opponents, opponent quick facts, plus links to recent match-ups with each opponent. In addition, each preview will include an audio clip from the Flames Sports Network, which will feature an interview with the opposing head coach and a key returning player, plus head coach Danny Rocco's thoughts on the upcoming match-up.
Today, LibertyFlames.com continues the series by looking at the VMI Keydets, a team that was predicted to finish sixth in this year's annual Big South preseason poll.
2011 Big South Preseason Football:
1. Liberty (15) – 123
2. Stony Brook (2) – 104
3. Coastal Carolina (1) – 96
4. Charleston Southern – 59
4. Gardner-Webb – 59
6. VMI – 42 (three fourth-place votes, two fifth-place votes, 11 sixth-place votes, two seventh-place votes)
7. Presbyterian College – 21 - PC Preview
The Keydets finished the 2010 season in a share of fourth place in the Big South, with both VMI and the Bulldogs posting identical 2-4 records in league play. Overall, the Keydets finished last year with a 3-8 record, one that included a non-conference victory over Lock Haven, 48-6, to open the season.
In Big South play, VMI opened up league action with a 24-13 home victory over Presbyterian College and picked up its second Big South win three weeks later on the road at Charleston Southern, 34-16.
VMI enters the 2011 season under fifth-year head coach Sparky Woods. The Carson-Newman graduate implemented a major offensive scheme alternation two seasons ago, as the 2009 campaign saw the Keydets move away from the spread option to a more traditional balanced attack. Prior to the switch, VMI football was one of the top rushing offenses in the country year-in and year-out.
Since the switch, VMI posted a 2-9 record in 2009 and 3-8 in 2010, and Woods expects the record to improve even more this upcoming year. The Keydets return 16 starters from last year's squad, including eight on the offensive side of the field.
Quarterbacks Eric Kordenbrock and Adam Morgan shared time under center with Cameron Jones in 2010, but the job will be up for grabs between the pair of sophomores after Jones' graduation.
Kordenbock finished 2010 by completing 67-of-137 passing attempts for 723 yards, while Morgan was 35-of-76 for 370 yards. Both quarterbacks finished the campaign with three passing touchdowns.
Chaz Jones, the Keydets top rushing option in 2010, also returns after leading the squad by rushing for 502 yards and six touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the field, the Keydets return six starters, including first-team all-conference linebacker A.J. Gross and second-team all-league defensive back Byron Allen.
Gross led all tacklers in the Big South in 2010, finishing the season with 110 stops, including 40 solo tackles. Allen followed shortly behind at No. 7 in the Big South standings with 78 tackles.
In their last meeting with the Flames, Liberty had one of its most convincing first halves of the 2010 season, as the Flames scored on five of their first eight drives of the game. By time the two teams headed to the locker room following 30 minutes of action, Liberty had opened up a 31-0 lead.
The Flames eventually won the contest, 41-7, thanks to the quarterback-wide receiver connection of Mike Brown and Chris Summers. Summers posted one of his two three-touchdown games in 2010 against the Keydets, while finishing the game with six total receptions for 120 yards. Brown completed 17-of-28 passing attempts for 231 yards with all three of his scoring passes going to Summers.
Doncel Bolt and Patrick Bannon, who was playing in front of a hometown crowd of Lexington, Va., led the squad with five stops each, with both defenders posting a sack.
Liberty has won the last five meetings between the Keydets and the Flames, including back-to-back outings on Liberty Mountain. Liberty's offense has excelled in the past two meetings at Williams Stadium, as the Flames have scored an average of 63.5 points per game (73-34 in 2007 and 54-14 in 2009).
Nov. 5, 2011 (3:30 p.m.)
Williams Stadium (19,200)
Location: Lexington, Va.
Colors: Red, White and Yellow
Conference: Big South
Stadium: Foster Stadium/Alumni Memorial Field (10,000)
Surface: Natural Grass
Superintendent: General J.H. Binfor Peay III
Athletic Director: Donny White
Head Coach: Sparky Woods
Record at School: 9-24 (Four Years)
Career Record: 72-70-5 (13 Years)
Matt Campbell - Offensive Coordinator
A.J. Christoff - Defensive Coordinator/Secondary
George Handler - Tight Ends
Greg Harris - Outside Linebackers
Winston October - Wide Receivers
Greg Shockley - Running Backs
Eric Brown - Inside Linebackers
Trent Walker - Safeties
Don Woods - Defensive Line
PLAYER & TEAM INFORMATION
2010 Record: 3-8
Conference Record/Finish: 2-4 (5th)
Offensive Formation: Multiple
Defensive Formation: 3-4
Lettermen Returning/Lost: 37/14
Starters Returning/Lost: 16/10
Offensive/Defensive Starters Returning: 8/6
Offensive Starters Returning: Rob Bailey (OL), D'Angelo Smith (OL), Robert Collins (OL), James Boatright (OL), Eric Kordenbrock (QB), Tracy Hairston (WR), T.J. Talley (WR), Chaz Jones (RB)
Defensive Starters Returning: Emilio Calvin (OLB), Josh Sneed (ILB), A.J. Gross (ILB), Greg Walker (DB), Byron Allen (DB), Trae Watkins (DB)
RELATED MATCH-UP LINKS:
Oct. 16, 2010: Liberty won, 41-7 – Recap – Box Score
Last Meeting at Williams Stadium
Nov. 7, 2009: Liberty won, 54-14 – Recap – Box Score
Athletics Web Site
Photo Gallery - Liberty vs. VMI - Oct. 16, 2010:
VMI Head Coach Sparky Woods at Big South Football Media Day:
Big South Conference Preview Video Package, featuring Presbyterian College: