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Lengthy Offensive Plays Encourage Rocco

April 10, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Mike Brown looks downfield for another touchdown pass during Saturday morning's workout.

Mike Brown looks downfield for another touchdown pass during Saturday morning's workout.

Liberty held its last full scrimmage on Saturday before its annual spring game and deep passes downfield and successful drives by the offense turned out to be the overriding theme of the workout.

With nearly all of its offensive and defensive play calls installed, head coach Danny Rocco held his most intensive scrimmage of the spring on Saturday morning. Following Friday afternoon's workout, Rocco charged his team, instructing them that he wanted to see a more physical practice the following day.

Early on, it looked as though Rocco's defensive units had taken the stern talking to heart the most, as the Flames' blue-clad defenders certainly controlled the pace of action. On the first scrimmage play, defensive end Terry Adams quickly got behind the line of scrimmage and stopped running back SirChauncey Holloway dead in his tracks on a rushing play up the middle.

Following an offensive breakdown on the next play, Rocco sent both squads to their respective sidelines, telling his offensive players to regroup and refocus their efforts.

Continuing their work on third-down plays, the Flames kept the ball on the ground for 25 out of 27 plays, with rushing attempts being split by Holloway, Korrey Davis and Chase Barnett.

The only two times Liberty took to the air, Liberty's defensive backs quickly made their presence known with force. On two deep passing plays, one thrown by Mike Brown and the other by Tyler Brennan, both of Liberty's intended receivers (Chris Summers and Pat Kelly) where knocked to the ground and the ball fell incomplete.

However, Rocco quickly saw a shift in success midway through practice when he started calling for more passing plays. For there on out, Liberty's offense dominated the remainder of practice, with several deep completions downfield and continued success during different chain-moving drills during the later part of workout.

"Offensively, it is probably the best that I've ever seen us throw the football down the field," remarked Rocco following his two-plus hour practice. "That was very encouraging for me to see. Mike [Brown] had the majority of the throws downfield to Chris Summers."

"Chris is really an exceptional specimen," continued Rocco. "He is a big kid that can run, as he is tall and long and he is really looking good. He has gotten stronger and with that, he has also gotten a little quicker. Now he gets to the ball better and holds onto it better and lately, he is starting to run after the catch better."

Before moving on to some controlled play call periods, Brown completed 5-of-7 deep pass attempts, including two touchdown passes to Summers. On the first, Summers caught a 35-yard pass over the middle of the field and was able to outrun Larry Claiborne for a score. The second was a 40-yard pass that Summers hauled in over top of two defenders before falling to the ground.

Brennan also found success on the deep passing plays, completing 5-of-6 throws, including successive over-the-shoulder catches by Ervin Garner, Jimmy Eden and Kelly.

Following a special teams period that focused on punting, Rocco returned to a drill that he introduced to the team earlier this spring. Starting in various second-and-long situations (second-and-seven up to second-and-10), Liberty's offense tried to pick up a first down in two plays or less.

The first, second and third-team units each had four chances to run the drill, starting with second-and-seven and then moving the ball back a yard each series. Liberty's first-team offense picked up a first down twice, while the second and third-team units were successful three out of four times in moving the chains.

Liberty then closed out the practice by working on red zone plays, starting at the 20, 12 and five-yard lines with a fresh set of downs. Once again, the white-jerseyed players were able to continually find the end zone on both rushing and passing plays.

While Rocco was pleased with his offensive players, he did express his concern over the number of penalties called on his team by the officials who were there overseeing the scrimmage.

"On a down side, we had way too many penalties," reflected Rocco. "I don't think that I've ever been anywhere where we have had so many penalties during a scrimmage. The extremes were that, too many penalties, with a lot of them being defensive pass interference and some being illegal formation infractions, which is inexcusable."

Following two days off, the Flames will begin their final week of spring practice on Tuesday afternoon. Liberty will return to Williams Stadium at 5:15 p.m., where the squad will review its previous 11 practices and start to get ready for the team's annual spring game that will be played next Saturday at 1 p.m.