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2009 in Review: A Defensive Recap

December 11, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty's defense played a large part in the Flames leading the nation turnover margin this season.
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As LibertyFlames.com begins to wind down its 2009 in Review segments, today the web site takes a look at Liberty's defensive effort throughout the team's Big South championship season.

Liberty set only one defensive record in 2009, matching the program record for fumbles recovered in a game with six, en route to a 54-14 victory over VMI at home on Nov. 7.

However, do not let the lack of records rewritten fool you, as a younger defensive squad still managed to uphold a growing defensive precedent under head coach Danny Rocco.

Liberty held seven of its 11 opponents under 20 points this year and currently ranks No. 24 nationally in scoring defense. The Flames allowed 19.09 points per game, which helped the Flames keep their points allowed average during Rocco's tenure to 18.91 points allowed per contest.

The Flames' defense also played a huge part in Liberty finishing the season ranked No. 1 nationally in turnover margin. Liberty's defenders forced 29 turnovers, in comparison to the eight turnovers Liberty committed throughout the season.

Flames' defenders took great pride in their ability to read opposing quarterbacks in 2009, as Liberty intercepted 17 passes and currently ranks No. 14 nationally in total interceptions. Individually, KaJuan Lee led the team with five picks and currently ranks No. 19 by averaging 0.45 interceptions per game. The figure was the highest individual single-season total in nearly two decades of Liberty football, matching Wesley McConnell's five interceptions in 1991.

Lee was one of six defenders honored by the Big South with all-conference accolades and one of two first-team selections. The defensive back was joined on the first team by team captain and defensive lineman Trey Jacobs.

Four defenders followed Lee and Jacobs on the second-team all-conference list, as defensive lineman Asa Chapman, linebackers Wes Cheek and Doncel Bolt and defensive back Chris Rocco each garnered conference recognition for their individual efforts in 2009.

Rocco, who finished his days in a Liberty uniform with 163 career tackles and 11 pass breakups, was also honored for his efforts in the classroom. With a 3.98 cumulative GPA in kinesiology, Rocco became the third football player and 16th Division I student-athlete in Liberty Athletics history to garner CoSIDA Academic All-America honors.

Liberty's 2009 Big South All-Conference defensive honorees:

Big South First-Team All-Conference:
DL – Trey Jacobs, Sr.
DB – KaJuan Lee, So.

Big South Second-Team All-Conference:
DL – Asa Chapman, So.
LB – Wes Cheek, Sr.
LB – Doncel Bolt, Jr.
DB – Chris Rocco, Sr.

Tomorrow, LibertyFlames.com will wrap up its 2009 in Review segments with a look at the Flames' Special Teams units, including a video interview with first-year Special Teams Coordinator Marshall Roberts.