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Flames Look Sharp in Final Tune-Up for Spring Game

April 19, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Scott Wachenheim instructs players during a unique drill the pitted the Flames’ offensive linemen and the defensive linemen.

Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Scott Wachenheim instructs players during a unique drill the pitted the Flames' offensive linemen and the defensive linemen.

In conditions that were more fitting for the final practice in November, the Flames football program battled another chilly April afternoon for its final rehearsal of the spring session, Thursday, at Williams Stadium in preparation for its annual Spring Game on Saturday.

After 12-consecutive practices in full pads, the Flames used today's session as more of a "walk through" practice in preparation for Saturday's season-ending scrimmage. The coaching staff emphasized sharpness on assignments, which was particularly evident in the team's red zone passing game drills. Wide outs Wynton Jackson and Brandon Turner shined during the drill with both receivers recording numerous touchdown receptions.

"It doesn't even compare," stated head coach Danny Rocco when asked to reflect on this spring's practice compared to last year. "There are so many facets that are different. We are different and better as we go into our second year as a coaching staff. These kids are a whole year into a system where they have really bought into what we are preaching and coaching on a daily basis. Morale has been outstanding this spring and I think the future looks bright."

The practice also saw nearly 30 minutes of special teams focus where the squad worked on different aspects of the special teams game. The coaching staff began to implement its fake field goal and punt packages and worked on defending various punt formations.

Liberty worked on various unique special teams situations during the practice session, including getting ready for next year's NCAA rule change where teams will kick off from the 30-yard line, as opposed to the 35-yard line. The five-yard difference should keep the average kickoff out of the end zone and results in more emphasis being placed on coverage and returns.

Due to the Flames' success last year in the kickoff return game where Liberty finished third in the nation in kickoff return yards (25.6 average) and was the only team in the nation to return three kickoffs for a touchdown, the Flames' coaching staff is expecting to see some "bloop" kicks which will keep the ball out of the hands of return specialist Wynton Jackson and Dominic Bolden.

When asked about what he is expecting from Saturday's Spring Game, Rocco responded, "I want us to look sharp. I've been preaching to these guys all spring to ‘focus and execute'. I want them to focus on their technique and fundamentals. I want them to look crisp and play the game at a fast tempo. We've put in 14 really great days of work this spring and I want to see the same as we wrap up with one more solid practice."

A festive day is planned for Saturday, ending the Flames' spring season. The P-1 parking lot will be open all day for pre-game tailgating, while "Dinner on the Grounds" is scheduled to being at 1 p.m. inside Williams Stadium and will run up to the start of the game at 3 p.m.

Liberty University students will be able to eat as part of their Meal Swipe package and local Flames fans will be able to partake in the dinner for $5 per person.

The stadium will open to the general public starting at Noon with several Kidz Zone carnival play areas available. Members of the football program will be signing commemorative autographic cards just beyond the North end zone of the stadium for a one-hour time block starting at 1:30 p.m.

Flame Facts from Today's Practice:
• Director of Athletics Jeff Barber could be seen throughout today's final two-hour practice session showcasing the newest addition to Williams Stadium, as today was the first day supporters could view a portable Stadium Suite located next to the West side of the press box.
• The Stadium Suite will also be open to potential purchasers by appointment on Friday and all day Saturday during the Spring Game. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment, please contact Bob Good at rgood@liberty.edu or at (434) 582-2178.
• For more information about the Stadium Suite, please visit the following informational page.
• During Liberty's two minute drill session at the end of practice, both drives were run by the first team offense, concluding with "game winning" field goals by David Drake. The redshirt sophomore hit a 41 yarder on the first drive and a 40 yarder to end practice.
• Punter Dan Sterckz continued to impress the Flames' coaching staff during the two-hour session, carrying the punt team unit during its numerous special teams drills during the afternoon.
• Today's practice was cut short by 30 minutes, allowing the players to shower and dress before the program's annual Senior Awards Banquet held at the Kirkley Hotel at 6:30 p.m.
• Saturday's Spring Game will pit the No. 1 Offense against the No. 1 Defense and the No. 2 Offense against the No. 2 Defense in full contact sessions in a contest using a unique scoring system.
• The offense will receive points during the following situations: first downs (1 pt.), extra points (1 pt.), two-point conversion (2 pts.), field goals (3 pts.) and a touchdown (6 pts.)
• The defense will receive points during the following situations: stop on downs (1 pt.), missed field goal (2 pts.), fourth down stop (2 pts.), three-and-out series (2 pts.), sacks (2 pts.), two-point conversion stop (3 pts.), takeaways (3 pts.) and a touchdown (9 pts.)
• The Flames will play four 12-minute quarters with a running clock outside of possession changes and time outs.
• During halftime of the Spring Game, the Flames will present two special awards, the Luke 2:52 award (Whole Person Development) and the Samkon Gado award (Most Improved Player).
• Head coach Danny Rocco will also announce his 2007 team captains during the halftime ceremonies.