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Game Day Central: James Madison

September 22, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Game Day Central: James Madison

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Today's Game
The Flames will close out a three-game road swing when they travel to Harrisonburg, Va., for a in-state match-up with No. 3/3 James Madison. The Flames come into the game with a 2-1 record after a 30-23 road loss at Robert Morris last week, while the 2-0 Dukes have had the week off since upsetting previously ranked FBS opponent Virginia Tech, 21-16, on Sept. 11.

Jousting with James Madison
Today's meeting will be the 16th time the Flames and the Dukes have met on the gridiron, with James Madison holding a 10-5 series lead. The two teams met last year, with No. 6 ranked James Madison using two fourth quarter touchdowns to move ahead of No. 24 Liberty, 24-10, at Williams Stadium in a game that was played in a torrential downpour.

Another Look at the Series
Liberty won five out of seven meetings with James Madison from 1985 to 1992, before the series went on an eight-year hiatus. The Dukes have won the last four meetings in the series since it restarted in 2000, including victories in Harrisonburg in 2000 (38-7) and 2003 (48-6).

Duke Second Most Faced Foe
Today's meeting with James Madison marks the 16th time Liberty has faced James Madison in football. The Flames have only squared off against two other opponents more than 15 times, with both foes being Big South Conference opponents (Charleston Southern – 17, Gardner-Webb 16).

Commonwealth Clash
Liberty enters today's matchup with James Madison with a 33-29 overall record against teams from inside the Commonwealth of Virginia. Of the 11 Virginia-based teams Liberty has previously faced, St. Paul's is the team Liberty has had the most total victories against (6-0), followed by James Madison (5-9) and VMI (5-3).

Liberty vs. Virginia Opponents
Bridgewater 2-2
Ferrum 3-4
Hampden-Sydney 0-3
Hampton 4-2
James Madison 5-10
Norfolk State 3-1
St. Paul's 6-0
Virginia State 2-0
Virginia Union 2-0
VMI 6-3
William & Mary 0-4
Total 33-29

Previous Bouts with the CAA
Liberty enters today's matchup with James Madison having posted a 12-23 record against the current membership of the Colonial Athletic Association. Liberty has squared off against six current CAA teams, having previously faced James Madison (5-10), Maine (0-1), Towson (6-5), Villanova (1-3) and William & Mary (0-4). Liberty's last game against a CAA foe came in 2009, when No. 6 James Madison downed No. 24 Liberty, 24-10, inside of Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Va.

Wrangling with Ranked Foes
Prior to last year's 24-10 setback to No. 6 James Madison at Williams Stadium, Liberty had posted wins over its previous three ranked FCS opponents. In 2006, Liberty defeated No. 24 Charleston Southern (34-20/home), while the Flames reeled off wins over No. 23 Youngstown State (31-28/road) and No. 12 Elon (26-3/home) in 2008. Since 1983, Liberty has posted an overall 10-40 record against nationally ranked FCS programs, with the Flames' victory over Elon in 2008 marking the highest ranked FCS opponent Liberty has ever defeated.

Rocco against the Rank and File
Head coach Danny Rocco has been Liberty's most successful coach against nationally ranked opponents, as the skipper is 3-2 against ranked FCS opponents since taking over the program in 2006. Rocco was 1-1 against ranked opponents during his first season at Liberty (lost to No. 22 Coastal Carolina/26-28 and won over No. 24 Charleston Southern/34-20), followed by a 2-0 showing against ranked foes in 2008 (won over No. 23 Youngstown State/31-28 and won over No. 12 Elon/26-3). Last year, the Flames dropped its only match-up against a Top 25 program, when No. 24 Liberty fell, 24-10, to No. 6 James Madison at home.

Tangling with the Top 10
Liberty's matchup with James Madison will mark the 14th time in program history the Flames have squared off against a Top 10 ranked FCS program. Liberty is winless in 13 previous contests against ranked Top 10 teams, having faced programs ranked No. 2 (Western Illinois/1988), No. 3 (Troy State/1993, Hampton/1998 and Appalachian State/1999), No. 4 (Youngstown State/1993 and Appalachian State/2002), No. 5 (Appalachian State/2001), No. 6 (Furman/1991, James Madison/2009), No. 7 (Appalachian State/1987 and Youngstown State/1990), No. 9 (North Carolina A&T/1993) and No. 10 (Appalachian State/2000).

In the National Spotlight
No. 22/21 Liberty's match-up with No. 3/3 James Madison will mark one of six national games this weekend where two Top 25 programs will be pitted against each other (according to the Sports Network rankings). Joining the list, will be No. 9 Eastern Washington at No. 17 Montana State, No. 7 Delaware at No. 5 Richmond, No. 24 Penn at No. 1 Villanova, No. 21 South Dakota State at No. 18 North Dakota State and No. 20 Caly Poly at No .19 McNeese State.

Rocco's Road Record
Head coach Danny Rocco has put a strong emphasis on the importance of road victories since taking over the program in 2006. During his five years at Liberty, Rocco has guided the Flames to a 12-10 road record, including a 4-1 mark away from Williams Stadium in 2008. Liberty has won four of its last six road games, with the two losses during the stretch coming in Liberty's season-finale at Stony Brook, last year (36-33) and last week's setback to Robert Morris (30-23).

Road Warriors
The Flames are currently in the midst of a three-game road swing before returning to Lynchburg for the grand re-opening of Williams Stadium on Oct. 2 against Savannah State. This is the third time Liberty has pieced together three-straight road games under head coach Danny Rocco. The first time was in 2006 where Liberty won one of three games (at Savannah State). The second was in 2008, when the Flames reeled off three-straight wins, closing with a 43-38 victory over Big South foe Coastal Carolina.

Great Out of the Gates
For the fourth time in five years under head coach Danny Rocco, Liberty started a season with a 2-0 record. The only time Liberty has not started a Rocco-coached season 2-0 was last year, when the Flames opened the year with a 33-20 loss at West Virginia. Liberty's best start under Rocco was a 6-0 start in 2008, helping the Flames to a record-setting 10-2 season.

Third Game Speed Bump
Liberty dropped its game at Robert Morris last weekend, 30-23, marking the third time in five seasons that the Flames have dropped the third game of the year. Liberty lost games at Towson (2006) and William & Mary (2007), before picking up wins over Western Carolina (2008) and Lafayette (2009).

A Glance at Game 4
Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames have posted a 2-2 record during the fourth game of the season. Three of those four games have been on the road, with the lone fourth-game contest at home taking place last year, when No. 6 James Madison upended Liberty, 24-10, inside of Williams Stadium.

Second and Climbing
Following the first three games of the year, Liberty is now 34-14 under head coach Danny Rocco. The win against Ball State on Sept. 11 pushed the five-year head coach past Tom Dowling for second place on Liberty's all-time coaching wins list, as Dowling finished his seven years as head coach with a 33-38-2 record (1977-83). Liberty's all-time winningest coach is Sam Rutigliano, who posted a 67-53 record during 11 years with the program (1989-99).

Seven Points Costs Seven Spots
Following a seven-point setback to Robert Morris, 30-23, Liberty dropped seven spots in both national FCS polls. The Flames enter this week ranked No. 21 in the FCS Coaches poll and No. 22 in the Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25 listing. For the first time under head coach Danny Rocco, Liberty received a preseason national ranking in both polls (No. 20 in FCS Coaches and No. 21 in Sports Network.

Join the Group
Liberty was not the only Top 25 FCS program to suffer defeat this past weekend, as the Flames were one of 11 ranked programs to fall last Saturday. The most notable setbacks of the weekend occurred to New Hampshire, Southern Illinois and Montana. New Hampshire dropped a 28-25 game at Rhode Island and fell 10 spots from No. 8 to No. 18. Southern Illinois and Montana both suffered losses and dropped eight spots in the national polls. Southern Illinois lost a home game to SE Missouri State, 24-21, and dropped from No. 5 to No. 13, while Montana suffered a 30-27 setback to previous No. 16 Eastern Washington on the road to fall from No. 6 to No. 14.

A Rankings Review
Dating back to the second week of the 2008 season, Liberty has been ranked inside the Top 25 for 25 out of the last 33 weekly polls (including preseason and end of the year rankings). Following their victory over Glenville State on Sept. 6, 2008, The Flames jumped into the Top 25 at No. 25 and remained there the rest of the season. Liberty was in and out of the polls in 2009, as the Flames received a Top 25 billing in nine of the 13 polls released last season.

Brown is Back on Top
Mike Brown has been selected the Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, as announced at Big South Football Media Day in July. The quarterback was the first sophomore in league history to be named Offensive Player of the Year, last season, when he finished second in the league with 11 total touchdowns (nine rushing and two receiving). Brown ranked second on the squad in rushing yards (442) and led the team with 698 receiving yards on 60 receptions.

Bending it with Bevins
Matt Bevins, a consensus first-team All-America kicker in 2009, finds himself atop most rankings coming into this 2010 season. The junior has been named to the Sports Network Preseason All-America first-team squad and to the 2010 Fred Mitchell Award watch list. Last year, Bevins set new program and Big South Conference records by scoring 107 points. He ranked No. 1 in the country in field goals (2.00 per game) and No. 3 in scoring (9.73 points per game).

Defending Their Own House
Under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames have won 21 out of 25 home games. Liberty has won 84.0 percent of its home contests under the skipper, who is in his fifth year at the helm of the program. Liberty was 4-2 under Rocco at home in 2006, a perfect 6-0 in 2007, 6-1 under Rocco in 2008 and 5-1 on Liberty Mountain in 2009.

Oh What a Run
Head Coach Danny Rocco enters the 2010 season having posted a 16-3 record against Big South teams since taking over the program in 2006. Liberty's three Big South losses under Rocco have come by a combined eight points. Liberty lost two Big South games during Rocco's first season, falling to Coastal Carolina (28-26/10-28-06) and Gardner-Webb (27-24/10-21-06), and dropped the 2009 season finale at Stony Brook (36-33/11-21-09).

Trying to be the First
Liberty enters the 2010 season trying to become the first program in Big South history to win four conference titles in a row. Coastal Carolina and Liberty have each won three-straight titles. The Chanticleers won outright titles in 2004 and 2006, while sharing the title with Charleston Southern in 2005. Liberty won outright titles in 2007 and 2008, before sharing the conference crown with Stony Brook, last season.

Offensive Explosion
Under first-year offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter, a younger Liberty squad surprised many around the country, as the Flames led all FCS programs in scoring in 2009. Liberty finished the season with 400 points scored, which ranked No. 1 in the nation in FCS scoring offense (36.36). Liberty has reached the 400-point mark the last three years, including the 2007 season where they finished with a program-best 469 points scored.

Production Reduction
Following the first weekend of FCS football, Liberty ranked No. 9 nationally in scoring offense after a 52-7 victory over St. Francis. However, a 27-point effort in a win over Ball State and a 23-point outing in a loss at Robert Morris has dropped back to No. 16 nationally in scoring offense. The Flames have 102 points in three games, averaging 34.0 points per contest.

Racking it Up for Rocco
Head Coach Danny Rocco has brought a high-powered offense to Liberty, as the Flames have scored an average of 34.0 points per game since Rocco took over the program. The figure ranks 7.3 points per game ahead of the next highest scoring average under any other coach in program annals, as Sam Rutigliano's crew was able to score 26.7 points per game during his 11-year tenure.

Coach Avg. Points/Games
Danny Rocco 34.0 1,634/48
Sam Rutigliano 26.7 3,205/120
Rock Royer 24.2 145/6
Tom Dowling 20.9 1,524/73
Morgan Hout 20.8 1,040/50
Ken Karcher 20.6 1,382/67
John Cartwright 20.2 565/28

Running with the Flames
The Flames have been one of the nation's top FCS rushing programs over the past eight seasons, as Liberty has ranked among the Top 30 rushing teams in the nation seven out of the last eight years. During the span, the Flames have surpassed the 2,000-yard mark six out of eight years and have averaged 2,138 rushing yards per season. Last year, Liberty just missed the mark, rushing for 1,937 yards, but still managed to finish the year ranked No. 21 in the country in rushing offense (176.1 yards per game).

Ground Game Success
The Flames finished the 2009 season with 31 rushing touchdowns, falling just one scoring run shy of tying the 2007 team record of 32 rushing touchdowns. Liberty finished the year ranked No. 4 in the country in total rushing touchdowns. Only Appalachian State (45), FCS national champion Villanova (36) and McNeese State (34) finished the year with more rushing touchdowns than the Flames.

Winning Ways
Last year, Liberty finished the season with an 8-3 record, marking its fourth-straight season with a winning record. The previous record was three-consecutive winning seasons from 1988-90 (1988 – last year under Morgan Hout, 1989-90 – first two years under Sam Rutigliano).

Sensational Seniors
Liberty is coming off the best four-year span in program history, as last year's senior class finished their careers with a 32-13 overall record. The previous record for wins by a senior class was 27, recorded by the 1997 and 1998 classes. Both finished their days at Liberty with 27-17 overall records.

A Decisive Number
The Flames' prolific offense in 2009 had Liberty atop the national statistical category of scoring offense. The team led the nation in scoring offense by averaging 36.36 points per game. Liberty has had a Top 20 scoring offense the last three years, as the Flames ranked No. 19 in 2008 (33.67) and No. 3 in 2007 (42.64). The 30-point mark seems to be the key number for a Flames victory, as Liberty is 26-2 under head coach Danny Rocco when Liberty scores more than 30 points in a game. The Flames are 8-12 under Rocco when Liberty fails to reach the 30-point threshold.

Don't Forget About the "D"
Despite Liberty's gaudy offensive numbers over the past three seasons, the Flames' defense has played a significant factor in the team's success, bringing a smile to head coach Danny Rocco's face, as he is a 20-plus year defensive coaching veteran. Since 2006, Liberty has held its opponents to an average of 19.0 points per game, bolstered by Rocco's first season when the Flames allowed a program-record low 172 points (15.6 points per game, which ranked No. 12 nationally in scoring defense).

Two Touchdown Favorites
Since taking over the program in 2006, head coach Danny Rocco's Flames have outscored their opponents by an average of 15.0 points per game. Liberty has scored 1,634 points (34.0 average points per game), while allowing 911 points (19.0 average points allowed per game).

Demanding More Defense
Liberty's highly touted offensive schemes have caught regional and national attention during the last several seasons, but it is the play of the defense that pleases head coach Danny Rocco. Last year, the Flames finished the season ranked No. 24 in the country in scoring defense (19.09 points per game), marking the third time in four years under Rocco that Liberty has finished the year holding opponents to less than 20 points per game and ranked inside the Top 25 in the statistical category.

Packing Them In
Last year, Liberty finished the season ranked No. 1 in the country in home attendance among FCS programs, based upon filling stadium capacity. The Flames averaged 14,931 fans per home game in Williams Stadium which only seated 12,000 fans (124.43 percent). Liberty also ranked No. 8 in total home attendance (89,587) and No. 12 in average home attendance.

A Nice Number
Coming into the 2009 season, Liberty had lost 70 percent of its players who were responsible for its scoring from the previous season (33.67 points per game, which ranked No. 17 in the country in scoring offense). This year, the numbers are almost reversed, as the Flames return 72 percent of the players who were responsible for producing the No. 1 scoring offense in the country in 2009 (36.36 points per game).

Winning in Style
Six of Liberty's eight wins last year were by sizable margins, as Liberty defeated Gardner-Webb by 23 points (51-28), North Carolina Central by 25 points (35-10), Presbyterian by 36 points (55-19), West Virginia Wesleyan by 38 points (45-7), Coastal Carolina by 45 points (58-13) and VMI by 40 points (54-14).
Liberty continued the trend in its 2010 season opener, posting a 45-point win over St. Francis, Pa. (52-7). The victory gave Liberty 16 wins under head coach Danny Rocco, where the Flames have won by 25 or more points, meaning 47.1 percent of Rocco's victories have been by a quarter-century margin or larger (16 out of 34).

Fifty is Nifty
Four out of the last six games during the 2009 season saw Liberty have an offensive explosion, as the Flames eclipsed the 50-point mark during those games. During the later part of the year, Liberty only failed to cross that threshold twice, in a 20-13 road win at Charleston Southern and in a 36-33 season-ending road loss at Stony Brook.
The Flames seemed to pick up right where they left off on Sept. 4, as Liberty rolled up 52 points in a 52-7 win over St. Francis, Pa. The Flames have now surpassed the 50-point mark eight times under head coach Danny Rocco. The squad also surpassed the 50-point mark against St. Francis, Pa., (68-10), Charleston Southern (50-10) and VMI (73-34), with all three of those games coming in 2007.

Eight Is Great
For the third-straight season, the Flames reached the eight-win plateau, as Liberty finished the 2009 season with an 8-3 overall record. The Flames finished the 2007 season at 8-3 and 2008 with a 10-2 mark. Liberty was one of 28 FCS programs in the nation who won eight games in 2009 and the recent run marks the first time in program history Liberty has won eight games in three-consecutive seasons.

Equally as Impressive
Liberty finished the 2009 season ranked No. 1 in scoring offense (36.36 points per game) and No. 24 in scoring defense (19.09 points per game). Liberty was one of eight FCS programs to finish the 2009 season ranked inside the Top 25 in both scoring offense and defense. The Flames were joined by: Elon, Jacksonville State, Northern Iowa, Richmond, South Carolina State, Southern Illinois and Villanova.

Besting Ball State
Liberty beat Ball State in several statistical categories on Sept. 11, with the most notable one coming on the scoreboard. However, the Flames also outgained the Cardinals 395 to 338 total offensive yards. Following the outing at Ball State, the Flames have now outgained opponents 34 times in 48 games under head coach Danny Rocco.

20-20 Vision
For the third-straight game, the Flames finished a contest with 20 or more first downs. Liberty racked up 23 new sets of downs, including 12 by passing plays and nine by rushing attempts, last Saturday. Liberty currently ranks No. 11 in the country in first downs, averaging 23.67 first downs per contest.

Reinventing Itself
The Flames have become a predominate run-oriented program during the last eight seasons, but 2010 has seen Liberty find a new way to move the football. Through three games this season, Liberty has racked up 41 first downs by passing plays (out of 71 first downs). Only four other FCS programs have more passing first downs than the Flames this season (Elon – 49, Stephen F. Austin – 46, Weber State – 43 and Jackson State – 43).

Moving Those Chains
One of the busiest crews on the field during a Danny Rocco-coached football game is the "chain gang," as the Flames have ranked inside the Top 30 all four years in third-down conversion rate. Last year, the Flames finished the season ranked No. 22 (42.66 percent), while the 2008 team finished the year with a 50.98 conversion rate (which ranked No. 3 in the country).
Liberty is off to another great start in 2010, as the Flames currently rank No. 8 nationally in third-down efficiency (53.66). Liberty was 8-of-13 on third-down plays against St. Francis, Pa., 6-of-11 against Ball State and 8-of-17 against Robert Morris. Under Rocco, Liberty has converted on 46.3 percent of third-down plays (279-of-603) over the last four-plus seasons.

Fourth-Down Frenzy
Liberty found much success on fourth-down plays in 2009, converting on 7-of-10 fourth-down plays, which ranked No. 5 nationally in fourth-down conversion rate (70.0 percent). All seven successful fourth-down conversions eventually led to the Flames adding points to the scoreboard. Liberty has not been as successful in 2010, failing to pick up a first down on two attempted fourth-down plays.

Don't Even Think About It
Liberty is coming off two of its better games in turns of third-down efficiency defense under head coach Danny Rocco. The Flames held Ball State to three first downs on 11 third-down plays on Sept. 11 and Robert Morris to three first downs on 10 third-down plays last weekend. During the last five years, only six times have the Flames held an opponent to less than three third-down conversion. Liberty now ranks No. 16 nationally in third-down efficiency defense (27.78 percent/10-of-36).

Stopping Them When It Counts
Ball State elected to give it one more go on two fourth-down plays on Sept. 11 and Liberty's defense was able to come up with a stop on both occasions. The most notable was on a fourth-and-two play with 45 seconds left from the Liberty 26-yard line. Looking to pick up a new set of downs and extend the game, Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning attempted to get off a pass, but Flames nose guard Asa Chapman sacked him and Mike Connolly pounced on the loose ball to end the game.
The Flames continued the trend last weekend, when Liberty stopped Robert Morris on a fourth-down play midway first quarter. Liberty is tied with 22 other FCS programs to perfectly defend fourth-down plays in 2010.

Home Turf Advantage
The Flames rushed for five touchdowns against Presbyterian last year, marking the fourth time in six home games the Flames tallied four or more rushing touchdowns. In six home games, the Flames managed to run for 24 of their 31 team rushing touchdowns (77.4 percent). Liberty scored single rushing touchdowns on the road against West Virginia, Lafayette and Charleston Southern, while scoring twice on the ground at Gardner-Webb and Stony Brook.

Over the Century Mark
With Liberty's six rushing touchdowns against Coastal Carolina on Oct. 17, 2009, Liberty moved over the century mark for rushing touchdowns under head coach Danny Rocco. During Rocco's 47 games as head coach on Liberty Mountain, the Flames have rushed for 118 touchdowns (2.51 rushing touchdowns per game), including 34 games with multiple rushing touchdowns.

Colonials Halt Scoring Streak
For first time in 43 games, the Flames failed to finish a contest with a rushing touchdown last weekend at Robert Morris. The last game Liberty did not record a rushing touchdown in was against Wake Forest on Sept. 30, 2006. Liberty has rushed for a touchdown in 45 out of 48 games under head coach Danny Rocco.

Getting Better and Better
For the last three years, Liberty has bettered its own school record in completion percentage. Last year, the Flames raised the new school standard to 68.06 percent, completing 211-of-310 passing attempts. Liberty finished the 2008 season with a 64.2 completion percentage and a 62.0 percentage in 2007. Only two other programs in FCS posted better completion percentages in 2009, as Stephen F. Austin led the nation (68.33) and Lafayette finished second (68.12).

Will Have to Get Better
Entering the Robert Morris game, Liberty had completed 70.4 percent of its passing attempts (50-of-71) during the first two games of the year. However, a 24-of-40 effort against the Colonials has knocked Liberty's team completion percentage down to 66.7 percent (74-of-111). Liberty is one of 16 FCS programs in the country who have completed two-thirds or better of its passing attempts this season.

Airing It Out
During the first three games of the year, the Flames have certainly taken to the air to find a way to score. Liberty currently ranks No. 4 nationally in passing offense (331.67 average passing yards per game). The three teams ahead of the Flames in the statistical category are Yale (407.0 per game), Princeton (392.0 per game) and Jackson State (356.0 per game).

Pass Happy
Liberty currently ranks No. 4 in the country in passing yards, as the Flames are averaging 331.67 passing yards per game. The Flames have surpassed the 250-yard mark in all three games, marking the second time Liberty has accomplished the feat during three-consecutive games under head coach Danny Rocco (also against Presbyterian, Coastal Carolina and VMI in 2007). Coming into the year, Liberty had tallied only 10 250-plus passing games during the first four seasons under Rocco (45 games).

Aerial Attack
Liberty finished the Robert Morris game with two passing touchdowns, giving the Flames 10 passing touchdowns in three games. Liberty, along with Montana and Lamar, currently lead the nation in passing touchdowns.

Finding a Different Way to Score
During the last several years, Liberty has become known as one of the top rushing programs in the nation. However, the 2010 season has found the Flames finding another way to score points. Ten of Liberty's 13 touchdowns have come via the passing game, with six passing touchdowns against St. Francis, Pa., and two passing scores against both Ball State and Robert Morris.

A Quick Comparison
Through three games this season, Liberty has thrown for 10 touchdowns, which is tied for the national lead in team passing touchdowns. Just as a point of comparison, the Flames finished the 2009 season with 13 total passing touchdowns. It took the Flames 10 games to reach the same mark last year, doing so against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 14, 2009.

First Down Focus
Liberty has finished the first two games of the year with 71 first downs, while surrendering a combined 48 first downs to St. Francis, Pa., Ball State and Robert Morris. Liberty currently ranks No. 11 in average first downs (23.67) and No. 25 in average first downs allowed (16.00). Liberty is one of 13 FCS programs in the country to currently rank inside the Top 23 in both statistical categories.

Taking Better Care of the Ball
Since taking over the program in 2006, head coach Danny Rocco has tried to instill the importance of taking care of the football. Liberty has finished inside the Top 25 all four years under Rocco in turnover margin, highlighted by the 2009 campaign, where the Flames led the country in turnover margin (+1.91). Liberty ranked No. 7 in 2007 (1.27), No. 20 in 2006 (0.55) and No. 21 in 2008 (0.67) in turnover margin.

Winning the Turnover Battle
For the first time since taking over the program five seasons ago, the Flames have posted a minus turnover number in consecutive games. Liberty was -2 against Ball State (three passes intercepted to one fumble recovery). Robert Morris was +2 in the turnover battle last weekend, finishing with an interception and a fumble recovery, while the Flames failed to force a turnover.
The consecutive outings mark the ninth and tenth time an opponent has finished with less turnovers than Liberty during a Danny Rocco coach game (48 total games). Since 2006, Liberty has a +48 turnover figure as compared to its opponents, as Liberty has committed 51 turnovers, while forcing 92 giveaways.
Liberty finished five games in 2009 without committing a turnover, doing so against Lafayette, Coastal Carolina, VMI and Gardner-Webb. Since Rocco took over the program in 2006, Liberty has finished 17 games (out of 48 total games) without committing a turnover, including the season-opening victory over St. Francis, Pa.

A Different Kind of Year
Through five games this year, Liberty has committed five turnovers and currently ranks No. 80 in the country in turnover margin (-0.67). Last year, Liberty finished 11 games with eight total giveaways and led the country in the statistical category (+1.91).

Setting a New Standard
During a five-game stretch late in the year (Oct. 17 – Nov. 14), Liberty avoided throwing an interception to set a new school record for consecutive games without a picked-off pass. Under head coach Danny Rocco, Liberty's quarterbacks have thrown just 26 interceptions in 48 games (0.54 per game).

Interception Anomaly
Ball State did something no other opponent has done while Danny Rocco has been the football coach at Liberty. The Cardinals finished the game with three interceptions, marking the most interceptions by an opponent in the last five years. In fact, Ball State marks the sixth opponent since 2006 to finish a game with more than one interception per contest. Robert Morris picked off the fourth Liberty pass of the season, but the Colonials did so on the last play of the game, when Mike Brown got a 55-yard pass down into the end zone where the "Hail Mary" attempt was intercepted.

Picking Off Passes
After finishing the 2009 season ranked No. 16 in the country in interceptions with 17 picks, the Flames seem to be starting off the 2010 season right where they left off. In his first career game as a defender, Danny Broggin intercepted a pass against St. Francis, Pa., returning it for three yards and setting up a two-play, 39-yard touchdown scoring drive during the season-opener.
Since taking over the program in 2006, head coach Danny Rocco has helped his defenders hone their skills. Liberty has picked off 55 passes in 48 games, finishing 30 of those contests with at least one interception.

Streeter Streamlines the Passers
Under quarterback coach and second-year offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter, Liberty has been one of the most effective passing units in the country. Since joining head coach Danny Rocco's staff, Streeter has seen his quarterbacks throw at a 63.5 completion percentage clip, completing 764-of-1,197 passing attempts for 9,802 yards and 66 touchdowns. During the span, Liberty has averaged 204.2 passing yards per game and has a passing efficiency rating of 146.46 since 2006.

A QB's Best Friend
Liberty finished the 2009 season allowing 15 sacks in 11 games, which ranked No. 25 in the country in sacks allowed (1.36 per game). The Flames have allowed less than a sack per game under head coach Danny Rocco (0.94/45 in 48 games) during the last four-plus years and have finished 18 games without allowing a sack.

The Sack Attack
For the second game in row, Liberty finished a contest with more than one sack in game, as Liberty recorded a season-best three stops of the opposing quarterback for a loss of 23 yards against Robert Morris. Liberty posted two sacks against Ball State on Sept. 11, including one on a fourth-and-two play within the last minute to seal the victory for Liberty. The Flames have now posted 17 games under head coach Danny Rocco with two or more sacks. Under Rocco, the Flames have averaged 1.82 sacks per game (87 total) for an average loss of 13.52 yards per game (649 total yards lost on sacks).

Defending the Airwaves
During the first two games of the year, Liberty held its opponent to less than 200 team passing yards (St. Francis, Pa. – 78 yards, Ball State – 193 yards). In five seasons under head coach Danny Rocco, the Flames have held 28 out of 48 opponents under 200 passing yards in a game.

Doubling Them Up
After holding its first two opponents to a combined 271 passing yards (St. Francis, Pa. – 78 yards, Ball State – 193 yards), Liberty allowed Robert Morris to double up its opponent passing total in a single game. The Colonials completed 13-of-22 passing attempts for 271 yards, with four of the 13 completions going for 25 or more yards.

Red Zone Rapport
Liberty finished the 2009 season ranked No. 2 in the country in red zone offense, as the Flames found a way to add points to the scoreboard on 47 of 51 drives that reached the opponent's 20-yard line. Of Liberty's 51 trips inside its opponents' 20-yard line, Liberty scored 34 touchdowns (27 rushing/7 passing) and kicked 13 field goals.
Liberty has scored all nine times that it has penetrated the opponent's 20-yard line in 2010, doing so three times against Robert Morris, four times against St. Francis, Pa., and twice against Ball State. Since 2006, Liberty has added points to the scoreboard 85.0 percent of the time under head coach Danny Rocco (181-of-213 Red Zone opportunities) when penetrating the opponents' 20-yard line.

Nearly Perfect
The Flames have managed to tack points onto the scoreboard all nine times the team has penetrated the opponent's 20-yard line, including five touchdowns this season. Dating back to Liberty's Sept. 29, 2009, game against James Madison, Liberty has scored on 48-of-49 drives that have penetrated the opponent's 20-yard line.

Making Them Count
Liberty has scored on 48 of its last 49 drives that have crossed the opponent's 20-yard line. The Flames have made the most of those scoring chances, finding a way to record a touchdown on 33 of the 48 scoring drives (68.75 percent). This season, Liberty has scored all nine times it has crossed the opponent's 20-yard line and is one of 17 FCS programs in the country to have scored each time it has entered the Red Zone.

Tough Inside the 20
To score against the Flames inside their own red zone was a tough task in 2009, as Liberty ranked No. 9 in the country in red zone defense (66.7 percent). Opponents were only able to add points to the scoreboard on 24-of-36 drives that penetrated the Flames' 20-yard line, including nine times when Liberty's opponents had to settle for a field goal.
Liberty was one of seven FCS programs in the country to keep their opponent from scoring when crossing its 20-yard line, on opening weekend against St. Francis. During the past two weekends, Liberty's opponents have scored on six of seven trips inside the Flames 20-yard line and Liberty now ranks No. 34 in the country in red zone defense.

Bend but Don't Break
Ball State had much more success against the Flames in terms of scoring inside of Liberty's red zone on Sept. 11 than St. Francis did the previous weekend. The Cardinals scored on four of five trips inside Liberty's 20-yard line; however, they could only muster one touchdown and had to settle for three field goals. Liberty has allowed just three red zone touchdown in three games this season.

Painful Penalties
Liberty more than doubled its season penalty total against Robert Morris last weekend, as the Flames were flagged for eight infractions for 46 yards. Liberty had only committed seven penalties for 64 yards during the first two games of the season. Liberty currently ranks No. 18 nationally in fewest penalties per game (5.00/average) and No. 15 in fewest penalty yards per game (37.00/average).

Tallying TFLs
For the third time this year, Liberty finished a game with seven or more tackles for a loss, as the Flames hit the mark against Robert Morris, last weekend (for a loss of 28 yards). Liberty currently ranks No. 17 nationally in tackles for a loss (7.33 per game) and has tallied seven or more tackles for a loss in 20 games under head coach Danny Rocco since 2006.

Big Time Mark
The Flames finished their season-opening game with 599 total offensive yards, marking the most offensive yards during head coach Danny Rocco's five-year tenure with the program. The previous record was 591 total offensive yards, when the Flames downed St. Francis, Pa., 68-10, on Sept. 29, 2007. Liberty has surpassed the 500-yard mark eight times under Rocco (in 47 games/17.0 percent). Only two other FCS programs in the country have finished with more total offensive yards in a game than Liberty's 599 in its season opener. Bethune-Cookman racked up 635 yards against Edward Waters on Sept. 4 and Appalachian State piled on 620 yards against Jacksonville on Sept. 11.

Nearly a Record Day
Liberty finished its season-opening game against St. Francis, Pa., with 452 passing yards, as Mike Brown and Tyler Brennan combined to complete 26-of-33 pass attempts. The figure missed the school record by three yards, as Liberty's best passing performance in program history was 455 yards against Towson State on Oct. 26, 1991.

Nation's Best
Following Liberty's 452-yard passing performance against St. Francis, Pa., on Sept. 4, the Flames ranked No. 1 in the country in passing offense. The only other FCS program in the country to pass the 400-yard mark on the first weekend of the year was Jackson State, who threw for 404 yards in a 32-17 victory over Delta State. The figure is the second most passing yards in a game this season by any FCS program, ranking only behind Morehead State, who passed for 458 yards against St. Francis, Pa., on Sept. 11.

Big Time Burst
Just to put the 452-yard passing game in perspective, the performance against St. Francis marked only the fourth time in 46 games under head coach Danny Rocco that Liberty has thrown for 300 or more yards in a game.

Big South Record
Liberty's 452-yard passing game against St. Francis, Pa., on Sept. 4, set a new Big South Conference record. The previous team standard for passing was 431 yards by Charleston Southern against North Greenville on Oct. 25, 2003.

Tandem Ties Records
The quarterbacking tandem of Mike Brown and Tyler Brennan threw six touchdown passes against St. Francis, Pa., on Sept. 4, tying a Big South record for most touchdown passes in a game. The six touchdown passes also ties a program record, as the Flames previously threw for six touchdowns against Mars Hill on Oct. 6, 1984.

Big Day for Brown
Mike Brown had a career day against St. Francis, Pa., as the junior became the 10th quarterback in program history to throw for 300 yards in a game. He completed 17-of-22 passing attempts for 338 yards and four touchdown passes. His 338 passing yards marked the 15th-best single-game performance in program history, bettering Tommy Beecher's 337-yard effort against Gardner-Webb, last year.

Better Day Against Ball State
Following a 338-yard passing performance against St. Francis, Pa., Mike Brown posted even better numbers against Ball State on Sept. 11. The junior completed 24-of-38 passing attempts for 276 yards, while carrying the ball 18 times for 87 yards. The 363 total offensive yards marked a new career high for Brown, surpassing his 352 yards against St. Francis the previous weekend.

Getting to Be Old Hat
For the third time this year, Mike Brown finished a game with 300 or more total offensive yards, as the junior ranked up 344 yards last weekend at Robert Morris. The quarterback tallied 267 passing yards and 77 more on the ground and currently ranks No. 4 in the country in total offensive yards per game (353.00).

A Dazzling Dozen
Mike Brown completed his first 12 passing attempts at Robert Morris and finished the game by completing 24-of-40 attempts on the afternoon. In four career starts at quarterback, Brown has completed a combined 94-of-136 passing attempts, has led the program to three wins, has thrown for 1,123 yards, nine touchdowns and just four interceptions. Brown's career passing efficiency rating as a starting quarterback is 154.44 and his completion percentage as a starting quarterback is 69.1.

Joining the Program's Elite
Mike Brown threw for 267 yards against Robert Morris last weekend, marking the third-straight game the junior has surpassed the 250-passing yard mark in a game. Brown is the first quarterback in more than a decade to accomplish this feat, as the last was Biff Parson in 2000.

Accurate and Efficient
Not only is Mike Brown ranked No. 3 in the country in passing yards (293.7/average), but the junior hurler also ranks No. 9 in passing efficiency (157.40). He has completed 65-of-100 pass attempts for 881 yards and eight touchdowns, while tossing just four interceptions. He is one of FCS quarterbacks in the country to rank inside the Top 10 in both statistical categories.

Eight Is Enough
Mike Brown finished the Robert Morris game with two passing touchdowns, giving him eight scoring passes through three games in 2010. The junior is currently tied for No. 3 in the country in total passing touchdowns, as he is joined by Jackson State's Casey Therriault, Morehead State's Zach Lewis, Chattanooga's B.J. Coleman and Charleston Southern's A.J. Toscano.

Painful Passes
Mike Brown came into the Ball State game without having thrown a career interception. However, the junior walked away with three intercepted passes, including one being returned 36 yards for a touchdown. Of the two interceptions that were not returned for a touchdown, Brown picked up the solo tackle to end the scoring threat following one of the errant throws. Last weekend, the junior tossed his fourth career interception, but it came on the last play of the game when he heaved a 55-yard pass downfield to the end zone on a "Hail Mary" pass.

Honors Bestowed Upon Brown
Following his 338-yard performance against St. Francis, Pa., Mike Brown was named Big South Offensive Player of the Week, marking his fourth-career Big South weekly accolade. The junior was also honored by the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA), as he was named the web site's Quarterback Performer of the Week.

Even More Accolades
Following his performance at Ball State, quarterback Mike Brown was named the Big South Co-Offensive Player of the Week and was named to the College Sporting New FCS Weekly All-Star team. Brown shared league offensive honors with Gardner-Webb's James Perry, III, who also helped lead his squad to a 38-37 overtime victory over FBS foe Akron by catching 10 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.

Doing It All
Mike Brown was heavily featured during Liberty's game-winning drive late in the contest against Ball State. The junior completed all three of his passing attempts for a combined 30 yards, while he carried the ball five more times on the nine-play, 64-yard drive. The last time he carried the ball, he carried two Ball State defenders into the end zone with him, scoring on a one-yard run with 4:55 left in the ball game.

Liberty's No. 1 Option
Mike Brown was involved in 75.8 percent of Liberty's total offensive plays last weekend at Robert Morris (56-out-of-74 total plays). The junior threw for 267 yards as he was 24-of-40, while he carried the ball 16 times for 77 yards. This has become a pattern for Liberty this year, as Brown has been involved in 66.5 percent of Liberty's total offensive plays (139-of-209) and is responsible for 75.7 percent of the team's total offensive yard (1059-out-1399).

Scoring Machine
SirChauncey Holloway finished with one of Liberty's two rushing touchdowns against Ball State on Sept. 11 on a four-yard scamper late in the first quarter. Holloway has two of Liberty's three team rushing touchdowns in 2010. The four-yard burst marked the sophomore's ninth career rushing touchdown in 10 career games. He has scored in eight of 11 career outings, only failing to break the goal line against West Virginia Wesleyan and Charleston Southern, last year, and against Robert Morris last weekend.

A Triple Threat
The wide receiver trio of Chris Summers (129 yards), B.J. Hayes (110 yards) and Pat Kelly (115 yards) joined an elite group, on Sept. 4, as the trio became just the second group in program history to surpass the 100-yard receiving mark in the same game. The first time Liberty had three wide receivers finish a game with 100 more receiving yards was against Toledo on Sept. 17, 1994 – Tony Dews (106 yards), Robert Butz (104 yards) and Dion Cook (100).

Leader of the Pack
Chris Summers posted his second career 100-yard game, as the junior led Liberty with seven receptions for 129 yards against St. Francis, Pa. Two of his seven catches were for touchdowns, including a "Hail Mary"-type play that saw Mike Brown heave up a 40-yard pass into the end zone on the final play of the first half.
Summers became the 27th player in program history to have multiple 100-yard receiving games. His 129-yard performance was the sixth-best single game performance, on Sept. 4, among all FCS wide receivers.

Big Time Threat
Chris Summers became the 12th player in program history to have consecutive 100-yard games, as the junior hauled in 11 receptions for 146 yards and two scores against Ball State, on Sept. 11. One of his 11 catches was a 65-yard scamper for a touchdown, marking the longest reception of his collegiate career. Summers currently ranks No. 6 nationally in receiving yards per game (121.0) and No. 13 in scoring average (10.0 points per game).

The Nation's Best
Chris Summers was held under the 100-yard mark for the first time this year, when he finished the Robert Morris game with nine catches for 88 yards. However, one of his nine receptions was a 24-yard touchdown reception, giving him five scores this year. Summers is now tied for the national lead in total touchdown receptions (5), a mark he shares with J.J. Hayes of Lamar.

Nearing the Mark
Chris Summers 363 receiving yards through three games this year leaves the junior just 20 yards shy of 1,000 career receiving yards. The wide receiver has caught 75 career passes for 980 yards in 26 career outings.

Joining the Group
B.J. Hayes and Pat Kelly became the 46th and 47th players in program history to record a 100-yard receiving game, doing so in the season opener against St. Francis, Pa.. Hayes finished the game with seven receptions for 110 yards and a score, while Kelly caught four passes for 115 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown reception.

One More Makes Four
Ervin Garner became the fourth Liberty player this year to surpass the 100-yard receiving mark in a game this past weekend at Robert Morris. The junior finished the game with five receptions for 106 yards, including his first career touchdown on a 36-yard strike. Garner is now the 48th player in program history to have recorded a 100-yard receiving game.

Making His First Count
Redshirt senior wide receiver Kyle DeArmon made the most of his first career reception, as the wide receiver caught a pass from Tyler Brennan and broke two tackles to score on a 27-yard pass against St. Francis. DeArmon, who was a former quarterback for Liberty, finished the game with four receptions for 78 yards, including a second score midway through the fourth quarter (a 10-yard strike from Brennan).

Career Numbers Together
Tyler Brennan's 27-yard touchdown pass to Kyle DeArmon early in the fourth quarter against St. Francis, Pa., on Sept. 4, was the first touchdown pass of Brennan's career and the first reception of DeArmon's career. In six career games played at Liberty, Brennan has completed 18-of-25 passing attempts for 215 yards (72.0 completion percentage) and two touchdowns.

Bevins is Back
Matt Bevins regained his All-America form on Saturday, when the junior connected on 3-of-4 field goal attempts. His lone miss was a 51-yard attempt, which marked the third time this year Bevins had missed a 50-plus yard attempt. Bevins is 4-of-8 on field goal attempts on the season, with a 4-of-5 mark on attempts inside the 50-yard mark.

Double-Digit Dandy
Matt Bevins finished the Robert Morris game with 11 points, as the junior knocked down three of four field goal attempts and two point-after attempts. This marked the sixth time in his career that Bevins has scored 10 or more points in a single game.

Moving Up the Charts
Matt Bevins finished the Robert Morris game with 11 points, as the All-America kicker knocked down three field goals and two PATs. Following the 11-point burst, Bevins now ranks third in program history in career kicker scoring with 186 career points. He has a ways to go to catch Liberty's No. 1 and No. 2 kicking scorers, as Daniel Whitehead ranks No. 2 with 238 career points and Philip Harrelson is the program's all-time points leader with 250 career points.

Second to Almost None
With three field goals against Robert Morris last weekend, Matt Bevins moved into a tie for second place on the Big South's career field goal list and sole possession of Liberty's No. 2 all-time mark. Bevins, who now has 38 career field goals, ranks behind Coastal Carolina's Josh Hoke (40) and Liberty's Daniel Whitehead (43).

Mike Makes the Most of His Time
Punter Mike Larsson earned all-conference honors in 2009, despite being the starting punter with the fewest number of total punts in the Big South. When he was called upon to boot the football down the field, he did it with precision and focus. Larrson finished the year with 40 punts for 1,469 yards (36.7 yards per punt average), with 18 punts pinning Liberty's opponent inside their 20-yard line. Liberty also finished the year ranked No. 10 nationally in punt return yardage defense. Only 13 of Larsson's 40 punts resulted in attempted punt returns for a total of 44 yards (3.38 yards per opponent return).

Pinning Them Deep in the Zone
Mike Larsson finished the Ball State game with two punts for a total of 78 yards (39.0 average), with one of his two punts starting the Cardinals at the own 20-yard line. The 42-yard punt marked the 25th time he has pinned an opponent inside their own 20-yard line in 63 career punts (39.7 percent).

Mayo Moves Right In
Chris Mayo made the most of his first career game at Liberty, as the freshman defensive back led the Flames in tackles against St. Francis, Pa., during Liberty's season-opener on Sept. 4. The former Fork Union Military standout finished the contest with 10 tackles, including seven assisted stops and a tackle for a one-yard loss. Mayo continued to had to his growing resume last weekend, when the freshman posted four stops at Robert Morris, including 10-yard sack.

Adjusting to the Adjuster
Head Coach Danny Rocco made a few alterations to his standard "3-4" defensive scheme during the offseason, adding a hybrid linebacker-cornerback position he calls an "adjuster." Brent Vinson and Danny Broggin are the two athletes filling that role, and the pair found success during the opening game against St. Francis, Pa. Broggin finished with five tackles and an interception, while Vinson added two assisted stops and a pass breakup.

A Different Vantage Point
Danny Broggin was not only playing a newly created position on defense against St. Francis, but the redshirt senior also was seeing a different side of the field. For the first time in his Liberty career, Broggin was a defensive player, having made the switch during spring practice. During his previous years at Liberty, Broggin was used as a running back and wide receiver, having 225 total offensive yards and two touchdowns to his credit in 27 previous games.

One Score or Less
St. Francis, Pa., opened the game strong on Sept. 4, scoring on the opening drive. However, Liberty clamped down and held the Red Flash from scoring again the rest of the way. The outing marked the ninth time Liberty has held an opponent to one score or fewer under head coach Danny Rocco, which includes six shutout victories.

Career Day for Claiborne
Larry Claiborne led the Flames' defensive effort against Ball State, as the junior finished the game with eight tackles and his first career fumble recovery. Claiborne also finished the James Madison game, last year, with eight tackles. Of his eight tackles against the Cardinals, five were solo tackles, setting a new career high for the defensive back.
Claiborne followed his Ball State performance up with four additional solo tackles against Robert Morris last weekend. The junior now leads the program with 10 solo stops in 2010 and ranks ninth in the Big South in unassisted stops.

Kyle Comes on Strong
Kyle O'Donnell followed behind Larry Claiborne and also had a career day, as he finished the Ball State game with six stops. The half-dozen tackles matches his six-tackle outing against Gardner-Webb in 2009. O'Donnell also finished the game with 1.5 tackles for a loss, setting a new career high and nearly matching his career total (came into the game with 2.5 career tackles for a loss).
Last weekend, O'Donnell matched the figure again, as the linebacker tied defensive lineman Terry Adams for game-high tackling honors with six stops against Robert Morris.

Making the Most of His First
It took Asa Chapman 25 career games to record his first career sack, but it was worth the wait. With Ball State trying to drive late in the contest for a rally, the Cardinals' Keith Wenning took a snap from center on a fourth-and-two play from Liberty's 26-yard line with 45 seconds left. However, the Ball State quarterback was stopped, as Chapman knocked the ball out of the hurler's hand for his first career sack, sealing Liberty's second-ever victory over a FBS program.

Bannon in the Backfield
Asa Chapman was not the only Liberty player to finish his way behind the line of scrimmage against Ball State on Sept. 11. Patrick Bannon, Chapman's fellow defensive lineman, finished the game with a career-high 2.5 tackles for a loss, surpassing his total of 2.0 tackles for a loss against St. Francis, Pa., in 2007 and West Virginia Wesleyan in 2009.

Quite a Day for KaJuan
KaJuan Lee is coming off a career performance last weekend, as the defensive back finished the Robert Morris game with five solo tackles. Lee, who came into the game with four tackles on the year, had previously tallied three solo tackles during the last three games of the 2009 season to account for his former career high in the individual statistical category.

Terrific Day for Terry
Terry Adams tied Kyle O'Donnell for team-high tackling honors, as the defensive end finished Robert Morris contest with six tackles (three solo, three assisted). The half-dozen figure was third-best single-game performance of his career, ranking only behind a seven-tackle effort against West Virginia and an eight-stop tally against VMI in 2009.