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Red Zone Scrimmage Highlights Practice

April 10, 2008
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Running back Zach Terrell attempts to push his way through the defense during Liberty's spring practice.

Running back Zach Terrell attempts to push his way through the defense during Liberty's spring practice.

Head coach Danny Rocco's team wasted little time Thursday night, taking the field just before 7 p.m., in its ninth practice of the spring. Both units displayed moments of glory in a session that focused on a mixture of third down plays and featured a live goal line and red zone scrimmage.

"I think from beginning to end it was a pretty good practice," Rocco stated. "We came out here tonight and put in our red zone offense and red zone defense. We ran 72 plays of a thud, or controlled scrimmage on all situations. We ran about 97 plays, because there was a lot for us to get done out here tonight."

The boys in blue showed their true colors during the 11-on-11 drills, making several defensive plays, including two passes broken up by corner back Donald Manns and inside linebacker Kyle O'Donnell. Several plays later, outside linebacker Mike Connolly picked-off a pass from Spencer Landis, gaining a number of yards after the interception.

In the second hour of practice, the team worked on a number of third down plays. Senior quarterback Brock Smith kicked off the session, going 4-for-4 with back-to-back completions to Zach Terrell. Landis then stepped on the turf, hitting wide receiver Matt Lambros for a 35-yard pass downfield. The defense responded minutes later with consecutive near picks coming from corner back Kent Hicks and Manns respectively.

Upon the sound of the whistle, both units lined up for a live scrimmage in the red zone. The white jerseys scored three-straight times, followed by two big stops for the defense. Those reaching the end zone included running backs Rashad Jennings and Wesley Cheek, as well as redshirt freshman quarterback Mike Brown, who ran 10 yards on a draw for the score. Directly after the red zone portion of the scrimmage ended, Liberty ran 12 plays on the goal line, followed by series of extra point attempts.

"When we've gotten down here in the red zone and on the goal line, the offense has been extremely productive," Rocco noted. "Obviously, we have a little more maturity in some spots, such as the quarterback and running back position. I'm pleased with what I'm starting to see out of this offensive line. Even though we had a couple changes tonight because of some injuries, I think Mike Godsil, Brit Stone, Bryan Mosier and Josh Weaver have been very consistent, and they showed up tonight."

The Flames take the field for their 10th practice of the spring on Friday. Start time at Williams Stadium is set for 4 p.m.

Flames facts
Over 100 spectators occupied the stands during Thursday night's practice, easily setting this year's spring attendance record. The turnout occurred in large part due to Liberty's College for a Weekend event. Two weekends during each semester the University allows high school students to visit the campus and take part in numerous activities.

Officials took the field for the second time this spring. The men in stripes assessed seven flags on the night, including two false starts on the offense, and a holding penalty on right tackle Josh Weaver.

Two Flames did not participate in practice Thursday due to injuries that occurred two nights ago. Sophomore right guard Alex Stadler strained his MCL, while redshirt senior left tackle Zach Davis suffered a broken foot. Both players will likely remain on the shelf for six to eight weeks.

Unlike previous sessions, temperatures remained in the middle to upper 60's. Rather than donning his traditional winter weather stocking cap, coach Rocco sported shorts, a light Liberty football jacket, and a ball cap Thursday night.

Coach's corner
Periodically during this year's spring practice, LibertyFlames.com will be bringing insight from one of the assistant coaches on staff. During this brief one-on-one session, the assistant will preview his position players and what the 15-day practice session holds for his crew.

Today, LibertyFlames.com sat down and chatted with assistant/defensive backs coach Marshall Roberts.

On what he has seen from the defensive backs so far:
"I've seen a bunch of guys really improving each and every day on their fundamentals and everything they are coached to do. Often you get kids who aren't as focused as they should be as freshmen. It's really fun to see the freshmen and sophomores start to get the idea of what's going on. I'm really excited about this group we have. I have high expectations for them. It's going to be a fun a year."

On the senior leaders:
"I'm looking for Ryan Greiser to really step up and take the leadership role that he should. I'm looking for Kent Hicks to keep improving like he has, as well. One senior I failed to mention is Patrick Calvary. He is one of our seniors who will be a four-year starter for us."

On the newcomers showing potential:
"Donald Manns is having a heck of a spring. I'm really pleased with his performance. Tim Torrence is really playing well right now. A kid named Alfonso Bailey is playing well also, as well as newcomers like Brandon Saunders and Kajuan Lee."

On adjustments that need to be made:
We need to be better at finishing each and every practice. We need to be consistent each and every day with the little things. We need to improve on the way we watch film and the way we prepare ourselves.