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Football Begins Final Week of Spring Practice

April 13, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Matt Bevins closes out practice with another successful field goal on Tuesday.

Matt Bevins closes out practice with another successful field goal on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Liberty took to the turf at Williams Stadium for the first of its final four practices of the spring, which will culminate with the team's annual spring game on Saturday at 1 p.m.

"These guys have been working hard and playing with a lot of intensity," commented head coach Danny Rocco. "We ran a lot of plays today, as we are really trying to cover just about every situation that could come up in a game."

During the two-hour workout, which started at 5:15 p.m., Liberty had seven different team periods, with each team period having a different emphasis and focus. Two of the seven team periods specifically prepared the Flames to play against a 4-3 defense, something that Liberty's offense does not see on a daily basis during practice, as the Flames have run the 3-4 defense since Rocco arrived five years ago.

Also during the team periods, Liberty ran a series of first-down plays, as well as several plays geared toward third-and-long situations.

"The kids are working hard and getting better each and every day," continued Rocco. "The constant for us this spring has been the play of quarterback Mike Brown and wide receiver Chris Summers. They were both outstanding again today, after putting on an absolute show on Saturday."

Although Saturday's spring game is quickly approaching, Rocco has not turned his team's attention toward the annual intrasquad scrimmage yet. Rocco has several areas that he wants his squad to focus on during Thursday afternoon's full practice and Friday's "walk-thru" session.

"We haven't started thinking about Saturday yet, as we will cross that bridge a little later in the week," forecasted Rocco. "There are certain things that we have on our checklist that we want to make sure we complete by the end of spring practice."

Rocco feels like he is well through his "checklist" but still has a few more areas to focus and reemphasize during this last week of practice. Liberty is slated to return to the practice field on Thursday afternoon at 5:15 p.m., for its final full practice before Friday's session, which will be treated like a normal game week Friday "walk-thru" practice.

Following today's practice, had a chance to sit down and talk with Rocco about several of his special teams players, specifically focusing today on kicker Matt Bevins and punter Mike Larsson.

Last year, Bevins was a consensus first-team All-American kicker as a sophomore, as he led the nation in field goals per game (2.00, tied with Illinois State's Zach Kutch) and was the leading scoring kicker in the nation by averaging 9.73 points per contest.

Bevins bested two previous records held by Noah Greenbaum. Bevins finished the year with 107 points scored, six more than Greenbaum's 101 points in 2007, and 22 field goals, were was five more field goals than Greenbaum's 17 three-point kicks in 2007.

"We spend two periods each practice that are designated for special teams. We do punts almost every day and the second period we rotate through the different phases of kicking.

"Right now, I would say that Matt Bevins is still an All-American when it comes to kickers. He has had a great spring. Every time he has had to go out there and make a kick, he has made it. We have put him in some very tough situations, some long kicks and kicks into the wind, and each time he has came through.

"Robby Cramer is back as our long snapper and he is looking better each and every day, as he has been solid all spring. Mike Brown is still our holder and I've been very pleased with those three this spring."

Additionally, talked with Rocco about Larsson, who was a Big South second-team all-conference honoree, despite Liberty finishing the year with the ninth fewest punts in the country. He finished the year with 18 of his 40 punts landing inside the opponent's 20-yard line and three sailing for 50 or more yards.

"With our punting game, we are going to do a few things differently this upcoming year, as we are going have more variety. We changed our whole system last year, as we went to the ‘shield punt' and we are going to stay with that formation. But we are going to have a little bit more variety and some changes to give it a different look so the defense has to prepare for something different.

"Mike Larsson is having a good spring, as he is kicking the ball on time well and with good consistency. He is also kicking the ball for good distance and he is in very good shape.

"Overall, we've got two junior kickers, both a punter and a kicker, who come back this year with a lot of experience under their belts and are already showing a lot of talent on the field each day."