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Flames Implement Third-Down Packages at Monday's Football Practice
The Flames, completing the two-plus hour practice session under clear skies in near 80-degree weather, began to install their third-down packages during Monday's session, while also spending a portion of the practice reviewing the first five practices first and second down emphasis.
At the end of the day, the Flames' coaching staff found the session to be one of the more productive practices in recent memory. "Today was the best practice I can remember in a long time and certainly the best practice we have had over the last two spring seasons," commented head coach Danny Rocco. "The quarterbacks threw the ball well, finishing with more completions and deep balls down field than I can remember. I was certainly excited with what we accomplished today."
Defensively, the Flames spent a good portion of the second half of practice installing the program's third-down packages and four-man fronts. The coaching staff also added some zone pressure and blitzes to its nickel package, exciting the staff as a true pass-rush presence started to form.
Offensive standouts on the day included Dominic Bolden and Wynton Jackson, aided by the accuracy of the Flames' quarterbacks, as both wide outs showcased their talents by catching numerous passes deep down the field. Bolden caught a 30-plus yard pass down the far side of the field on the second to last play of the practice session where he would have taken it to the end zone if the play hadn't been whistled dead.
Rocco was also pleased with a strong showing by a pair of offensive lineman in Eddie Pinigis and Stephen Sene, who was recently given a six-year of eligibility by the NCAA due to previous health issues which cost the lineman a year of competition.
On the defensive side of the ball, Liberty's four-man front showed significant strides during the practice session, including Steve Ackley, Kevin Richards and Vince Redd.
Liberty completed its third practice in four days and is in the middle of stretch of spring practice where they will practice seven times over a 10-day period. On the grueling stretch of practices, Rocco commented "if we can get as much work in during this stretch as we want, we are going to be well ahead of the game."
Up until this point, Liberty's defense was ahead of the offensive squad, a relatively common situation due to offensive plays being more about timing. But Rocco believes the offense showed great strides on the afternoon, catching up to the seasoned defensive unit.
The Flames return to the gridiron this Wednesday where they will continue to build on today's third-down packages and will begin to add two-minute drill situations as well as bolstering the passing game. The session is scheduled to begin at 4:15 p.m. at Williams Stadium, marking the seventh of 15 practices this spring.
Flame Facts from Today's Practice:
• Former Flames punter Noah Couch (2001-05) and new head men's basketball coach Ritchie McKay were among the numerous fans spotted at today's practice.
• McKay was welcomed to the team huddle at the 50-yard line after practice by Rocco where he was officially introduced to the squad, receiving a rousing round of applause from the football team.
• Two of Liberty's bigger names came face to face late during Monday's practice as Zach Terrell caught a short pass over the middle of the field where the 6-0, 200 lb. A-back turned and was quickly enveloped by 6-6, 280 lb. linebacker/defensive linemen Vince Redd.
• During the first 15 minutes of third-down drills, Liberty's defense was well ahead of the offense, picking off two passes and causing a fumble, recovered by defensive back Ryan Greiser who returned it for a touchdown.
• However, later in the third-down portion of the practice, Liberty's quarterbacks started to shine, hooking up with numerous receivers, including Jackson who caught a slant pass over the middle and was able to get by Redd into the open field for touchdown run.
• Wednesday practice session, which was originally scheduled for 7:20 p.m., was moved back to 4:15 p.m., allowing the Flames to join the rest of the student body at Wednesday evening's special Easter communion service.
• Rocco commented after practice that the coaching staff has implemented 85% of both the offensive and defensive packages they want to install during the spring practice session.
• The Liberty Spring Game, scheduled for April 21, has been officially moved to a 3 p.m. start, allowing the Flame faithful to support both the baseball and softball programs which will be hosting in-state rival Radford at Noon.