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Rocco Weekly Review Released in Preparation for Big South Opener against Charleston Southern
LibertyFlames.com had a chance to speak with head coach Danny Rocco just after the conclusion of Thursday's practice at William Stadium, the team's final tune-up before taking on Charleston Southern, this Saturday, in both squad's Big South Conference openers.
Tomorrow's contest marks the beginning of the second half of Liberty's season, with the Flames opening up the final five-game stretch against a familiar foe. Liberty enters the game holding a 12-2 series advantage, including a 5-1 record in contests played in Charleston, S.C. The Buccaneers' lone victory over Liberty at home came two years ago when Charleston Southern claimed a 31-30 victory on Nov. 12, 2005, en route to a share of the Big South regular-season crown.
Last year, Liberty snapped a 14-game Charleston Southern winning streak with a 34-20 victory over the visiting Buccaneers. The 12-point win over the No. 24 Buccaneers marked Liberty's first win over a ranked team since 1997.
The game against Charleston Southern will mark the 15th time Liberty and Charleston Southern have met on the gridiron. Not only is this the longest rivalry in the history of the Big South Conference, but with today's contest, the Buccaneers will become the most frequently played opponent in school history. In the 35-year history of the football program, Liberty has faced Charleston Southern, Delaware State and James Madison 14 times apiece.
Be sure to check back each Friday to hear the Rocco Weekly Review to get your last-minute update on the Flames before they take to the field on Saturday.
Back Against the Buccaneers
Charleston Southern enters Big South Conference play tied atop the league standings with Liberty in overall record, as both squads have a 3-3 record. The Buccaneers have won two-consecutive games and three out of their last four gridiron match-ups.
Charleston Southern, who also had last weekend off, is fresh off a 28-0 blanking of Savannah State. The Buccaneers rolled up 272 yards on the ground against the Tigers, the most by a CSU team since gaining 397 yards against West Virginia Wesleyan in 2005.
Liberty leads the Big South Conference in scoring, averaging 38.3 points per game. Charleston Southern ranks just behind the Flames, having tallied an average of 27.7 points per game this year. The Buccaneers also ranks second in the conference with 20 touchdowns, placing behind the Flames' 30 TDs.
A key match up in the oldest rivalry in the history of the Big South could be the passing game. Charleston Southern leads the Big South, averaging 238.8 passing yards per game. Liberty ranks last in the league in pass defense. The Flames are surrendering 244.5 average passing yards per contest.
Both squad's defenses have been aggressive when the ball is in the air. Liberty and Charleston Southern are tied for the league lead with nine interceptions apiece.
Charleston Southern's quarterback Eli Byrd leads the Big South in passing, averaging 196.3 passing yards per game. The redshirt junior has completed 105-of-188 passes and has thrown a league-best nine touchdowns.
Charleston Southern's Jada Ross, a preseason Big South all-conference selection at linebacker, leads the Big South Conference in tackles. The redshirt junior is averaging 11.0 stops per contest.