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Offense Shines During First Live Scrimmage Session of Spring
Nearly halfway through the slate of 15 scheduled spring practices, the Liberty football team got the opportunity to play its first live, full-contact scrimmage Wednesday afternoon at Williams Stadium. Despite a working mostly against a stiff breeze, Brock Smith and the Flames' offense were able to move the ball well against the Liberty defense.
"Today I wanted to play some full-speed, live football, so we did that at the end, and had a scrimmage of about 24-30 plays," explained head coach Danny Rocco. "The first-team offense looked really good. Brock [Smith] is making good decisions and showing a lot of poise. The offensive line is also doing well with their protection."
The offense improved steadily after a sluggish beginning. The Flames were plagued by penalties and dropped passes early on, before the unit started to click. A pair of aerial connections between Smith and Brandon Turner seemed to turn things around.
On Turner's first catch, he took a short pass and turned it into a big gain with a couple of one-on-one moves in the open field. Several plays later, the junior made a nice, over-the-shoulder grab.
The first-team offense marched right down the field on its opening series of the live scrimmage. Tight end Richard Thom caught a Smith pass in traffic over the middle on the opening play to get things started, and a nifty cutback by Zach Terrell in the backfield yielded another significant gain.
"We've got first, second and third down offense and defense in," noted Rocco at the conclusion of practice number seven. "We've also gotten a good mix of our special teams in there so far."
The team will now prepare for a pair of weekend practices, Friday at 4:15 p.m. and Saturday at 10:50 a.m. Liberty will implement the final facets of its game plan during the two sessions.
"What we have left to go over are short yardage and goal line situations as well as the two-minute drill," stated Rocco. "We'll start working on those phases Friday and Saturday."
Flame Facts from Today's Practice
With just 17 days remaining before the spring game (and 150 days until the 2007 season opener versus Tusculum), Rocco asked his players the following question, "It'll be here before you know it, men. Will you be ready?" as they stretched before practice.
Despite the offense's success, the defense had a number of standout plays on the afternoon. Smith's first deep pass attempt of the day was tipped by Ryan Greiser and picked off by Chris Rocco. Linebacker Brandon Duke also made a big hit on the first-team defense's final play.
Linebacker Vince Redd made an impact, tipping several passes and picking up a fumble to initiate one of the day's lighter sequences. Redd pranced towards the end zone for an apparent touchdown before Rashad Jennings played Don Beebe to Redd's Leon Lett, recalling a dubious scene from Super Bowl XXVII. The running back chased Redd down and slapped the ball away from behind. Redd raised his arms to signal a touchdown, but the instant replay was inconclusive.
With Zac Kolegue sidelined for the spring, kickers David Drake and Doug Barbosa stepped in nicely on Wednesday. The duo combined to make all six of their wind-blown field goal attempts to close practice. Rocco admitted, "David Drake had a really good day today. However, Zac Kolegue should be fine once the summer rolls around, and he's still the incumbent to be our field goal and extra point kicker."