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LU Dons Pads for Final Spring Game Tune-Up

April 16, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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During today's Coach's Corner segment, head coach Danny Rocco reviews his defenders, including rising senior linebacker Wes Cheek.

During today's Coach's Corner segment, head coach Danny Rocco reviews his defenders, including rising senior linebacker Wes Cheek.

In their third-to-last practice of the spring, the Flames ran several periods of scripted plays on Thursday evening. It was the final full workout for Liberty, before its annual spring game on the turf at Williams Stadium.

Liberty will return to the stadium tomorrow afternoon for a 4:15 p.m. practice. However, the two-hour workout will serve more as a walk through session, similar to a normal Friday afternoon practice the Flames hold the day before a regular-season contest.

For the first time in nearly five practices, the Flames did not scrimmage during the evening workout, which was held under clear skies and temperatures in the 50s throughout.

"There were a lot of good things that came out of tonight," stated head coach Danny Rocco following the workout. "The biggest thing that we wanted this to be was as close to a dress rehearsal to the spring game as possible. We ran a number of different plays, just like we will on Saturday, in terms of the tempo and how we want to move the ball down the field."

During the "THUD" practice, Liberty covered its entire playbook, including all game situations, substitutions and sideline organization, just like the team will encounter on Saturday. Members of the Flames coaching staff were up in the press box during the workout, once again simulating a game day experience.

"We are going to have to perform really well on Saturday," continued Rocco. "I just told them all that this is a big day for us, as it is an opportunity for this football team to start to earn an identity, and that is something that I don't think we have right now. This spring has been a maturing process and I think we are certainly moving in a positive direction."

After last Saturday's practice, Rocco said that his coaching staff was planning on reviewing its practice footage from this spring to determine if they had the correct personnel in each area. According to Rocco, no major changes have taken place since the weekend, but the three-time Big South Coach of the Year has named rising redshirt sophomore Mike Brown his starting quarterback for the annual spring game.

"We haven't made any significant changes, but I've named Mike Brown our starting quarterback going into the game," stated Rocco. "I think we have competition in a lot of positions right now, which is really a good thing. We still have some guys with nagging injuries, which has made things a bit more difficult this past spring."

"Mike Brown will start at quarterback and it was a very spirited competition for the job this spring," closed Rocco regarding the starting quarterback role for Saturday's game. "Really in theory both guys have come on real strong right here at the end this spring, but I had to make a decision and this is the one I've made. I felt like if we had to play a game on Saturday, Mike would give us the best chance to win."

As previously mentioned, the Flames will return to the field tomorrow afternoon, as they will be "on the line" at 4:15 p.m., for a walk-through practice. However, the practice will not be the only football-related activities of the day for the squad, as the program will hold its annual Senior Appreciation Awards banquet. Several team honors will be handed out during the evening, while each member of the 2008 squad will receive their 2008 Big South championship ring.

Coach's Corner with Head Coach Danny Rocco
As LibertyFlames.com brings to a close its coverage of Liberty's 2009 spring practice sessions, the web site will continue to review each of the three main team areas with head coach Danny Rocco.

Following Tuesday evening's practice, Rocco spoke with LibertyFlames.com regarding his special teams unit. Tonight, we get the head coach's feelings with regard to the defensive members of his squad.

"To be honest with you, I think our defense has a chance to be really good. They are the more mature element of our football program right now. There are more guys who have had legitimate playing experience on that side of the football. These guys have manned significant roles for us in the past."

"I just told them here at the end of this evening's practice, I look at this thing from the big picture. The big picture is that we open up our 2009 season in Morgantown, W.Va., against West Virginia and when we go there, the intensity and the focus must be there in order for us to have a chance to win."

"To me, toughness is the ability to perform under pressure – it is not talk or take cheap shots, as none of that stuff impresses me. I'm looking for guys who can perform under pressure, before I consider them a tough football player. I'm trying to identify those guys here, as we wrap up spring football, and I see most of my guys who fit that mold on the defensive side of the field."