Coastal Carolina Game Notes (PDF Version)
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Today's Game The Flames (7-2, 4-0 BSC) take to the road for their final regular-season road game of the year on Saturday, as Liberty travels to Conway, S.C., to face Coastal Carolina (4-5, 3-1 BSC). The contest will help determine the league's 2010 champion and the winner of the conference's first-ever automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs.
Series Summary Today's game will mark the eighth meeting in the series between the two programs since Coastal Carolina started its football program in 2003. Liberty won the first meeting and the three most recent match-ups to hold a 4-3 edge in the overall series.
Last Time at the Beach The last time Liberty made the trek to Conway, S.C., the Flames won 43-38 over the Chanticleers on Oct. 4, 2008, in a game that saw the two teams combine for 1,065 total offensive yards. Liberty is 1-2 all-time at Brooks Stadium, with the last two meetings being decided by less than a touchdown.
Less Means More The two teams combined for 1,065 total offensive yards the last time Liberty visited Brooks Stadium and defeated Coastal Carolina, 43-38, on Oct. 4, 2008. However, it might have been one yard Liberty did not pick that that sealed the road win. In a back-and-forth game, Liberty's Rashad Jennings broke free and found an open field on a third-and-two play from the Coastal Carolina 32-yard line. But instead of scoring what would have been his fourth touchdown of the game, Jennings took a knee at the one-yard line and Liberty was able to wind down the clock and move to 5-0 on the season.
Nice in November During the last five years, Liberty has finished strong under head coach Danny Rocco. The Flames have posted a 12-2 record in games played during the month of November and have outscored opponents by an average of 18.71 points per game during those contests (534 PF/272 PA).
Sensational Seniors This year's senior class has quickly erased last year's graduating class's program record. The 2009 squad finished their careers on Liberty Mountain with a 32-13 record. Through nine regular season games in 2010, this year's senior class has posted a 33-10 record during their four-year careers and they still have two regular season contests remaining to add to their new program record.
Four in a Row For the fourth season in row, Liberty has opened Big South Conference play with a 4-0 mark. The Flames are the first team in league history to accomplish this feat.
On a Roll Liberty will be looking to become the first program in Big South Conference history to start league play with a 5-0 record in three-straight season. The Flames finished the 2008 campaign with a perfect 5-0 record and won its first five games in 2009 before suffering a road lost at Stony Brook in both program's regular-season finales.
Oh What a Run Following a 40-14 home victory against Gardner-Webb last weekend, Liberty has posted a 20-3 record under head coach Danny Rocco against Big South teams since he took 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).
Road Warriors The Flames are coming off back-to-back road victories, giving Liberty three wins away from Lynchburg in 2010. Since head coach Danny Rocco took over the program in 2006, Liberty has posted a 14-11 record in games away from Williams Stadium. During the six seasons prior to Rocco's arrival, Liberty posted a combined 4-30 record in road games to open the fourth decade of Liberty football.
Trying to be the First Liberty continues 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.
Still on the Move Following a fifth-straight victory, Liberty moved up two spots in the Sports Network poll and another spot in the FCS Coach listing. Liberty is now ranks No. 12 in the Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Top 25 ranking and No. 11 in the FCS Coaches poll.
Rushing Attack is Back After rushing for an average of 116.25 yards and three touchdowns during the first four games of the season, Liberty has turned things around the latter part of the season. The Flames have averaged 210.4 yards per game and have scored 13 rushing touchdowns during those five games. Liberty now currently ranks No. 37 nationally in rushing offense, averaging 168.56 rushing yards per game.
Back to Their Roots Liberty has finished its last three games with 40 or more rushing attempts, carrying the ball 42 times for 168 yards against Gardner-Webb last weekend. During the first six games of the year, the Flames were averaging 33.5 rushing attempts per game.
Run Blockers For the third time in four Big South games, the Flames held an opponent to less than 100 team rushing yards, as Gardner-Webb recorded 93 yards on 31 carries. Liberty is now allowing an average of 77.8 rushing yards per game in Big South contests, as compared to 150.8 rushing yards allowed in non-conference games.
Dousing the Flames Gardner-Webb came into last weekend's game as the second-ranked defense in the Big South. The Bulldogs did force the Flames to settle for four field goals on stalled drives and limited Liberty to 396 total offensive yards, its third lowest total of the season.
Dancing Down Marker During their Oct. 30 road victory over Presbyterian College, the Flames finished the contest with a season-high 32 first downs. This marked the third time that Liberty has finished a Danny Rocco coached game with 30 or more first downs. Last weekend, Liberty was held to just 20 first downs by Gardner-Webb, its second lowest total of the year. Liberty now ranks No. 2 nationally in first downs, averaging 24.11 new sets of downs per game in 2010.
Fourth-Down First Gardner-Webb accomplished something this past weekend that eight other opponents had failed to do in 2010. Bulldogs quarterback Chandler Browning completed a seven-yard pass to James Perry, III, giving Gardner-Webb a first down on a fourth-and-third play. This marked the first time that an opponent has picked up a first down against Liberty on a fourth-down play.
Stopping Them When It Counts For the first eight games of the season, Liberty held its opponents without converting on a fourth-down play. The first opponent to do so was Gardner-Webb, who was successful on one of four fourth-down plays on Nov. 6. Liberty is currently tied for the nationally lead in fourth-down efficiency defense, as both the Flames and Bucknell have allowed one first down on nine fourth-down plays. The Flames' 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.
Keeping up the Trend In keeping with its recent trend, Liberty limited another Big South foe as few yards as possible during the second half. En route to a 40-14 victory at home over Gardner-Webb, Liberty held the Bulldogs to 134 total offensive yards during the last 30 minutes of action.
Far Too Many Flags For the second game in a row, Liberty struggled in the penalty category, as the Flames finished the Gardner-Webb game by committing eight penalties for 80 yards. Liberty has been flagged for 17 penalties for 171 yards during the last two games, after averaging 4.28 penalties per game and 38.57 penalty yards per game during the first seven contests of the season. Liberty now ranks No. 24 nationally in fewest penalties per game (5.22) and No. 33 in penalty yards per game (49.00) after ranking inside the Top 10 in both categories for most of the season.
National Leader Following a career day against Presbyterian College and another solid performance against Gardner-Webb, Mike Brown now leads the nation in total offensive yards per game. The junior is currently averaging 330.11 yards per contest, which ranks ahead of Jackson State's Casey Therriault, who is averaging 329.22 total offensive yards per game.
Brown on the Ground For the fourth-straight Big South game, Mike Brown led the Flames' rushing attack, as the junior carried the ball 15 times for 77 yards against Gardner-Webb. He is now averaging 91.8 rushing yards per game in conference play and has been Liberty's leading rusher in seven out of nine games this season.
Doing It All Mike Brown currently leads the Flames in both rushing and passing. The junior has carried the ball 119 times for 623 yards, while having completed 182-of-281 passing attempts for 2,348 yards. Brown has factored into Liberty's offensive heavily in 2010, as the junior has contributed to 62.02 percent of the team's total offensive plays (400-of-645) and 72.69 percent of the team's total offensive yards (2,971-of-4,087).
A Mike Like No Other Mike Brown comes into today's game having crossed the 1,000-career yards threshold in rushing (1,207), passing (2,800) and receiving (1,047). He is the only current FCS player in the country to have accomplished his career feat and one of only nine FCS players with 1,000 career rushing and passing yards.
Five is Fantastic For the fifth time this season, Chris Summers finished a game with 100 or more receiving yards, as the junior catch seven passes for 119 yards against Gardner-Webb last weekend. Summers currently leads the Flames with 954 receiving yards on 69 receptions and currently ranks No. 6 nationally in receptions per game (7.67), No. 6 in receiving yards per game (106.00) and No. 4 total receiving yards.
Six and Climbing With his 119-yard performance against Gardner-Webb, Chris Summers now has six career 100-yard games, which is tied for third most in program history. Pat Nelson (1988-91) finished his career at Liberty with nine 100-yard games, while Courtney Freeman (1994-97) ranks second on the list with eight 100-yard career receiving games.
Conference Honors for Chris Chris Summers has been named Big South Offensive Player of the Week two times this season. The first was following a 132-yard effort against Savannah State, where he finished with three receiving touchdowns. The second was this past weekend after Summers finished with two touchdowns and 119 receiving yards in a Big South win over Gardner-Webb. Stony Brook's Miguel Maysonet join Liberty's Mike Brown and Summers as the only players who have been honored as Big South Offensive Players of the Week two or more times this season.
Chasing Another Mark Chris Summers finished the Gardner-Webb game with two receiving touchdowns, giving him 14 on the season. His national leading total currently ranks second best in Big South Conference single-season history. Coastal Carolina's Jerome Simpson set the league record with 16 receiving touchdowns in 2006.
Standing Alone Matt Bevins connected on both his field goal attempts at Presbyterian College on Oct. 30, knocking down attempts from 34 and 43 yards out. The pair of kicks pushed him past Daniel Whitehead for Liberty's all-time career record, as Whitehead finished his four-year career at Liberty with 43 career field goals (1991-94). Bevins comes into today's game with 49 career field.
Back-to-Back Honors for Bevins This past Monday, Matt Bevins was named Big South Special Teams Player of the Week for the second week in a row. The junior took home his first weekly conference honor after a 10-point effort against Presbyterian College on Oct. 30. This past week, Bevins tied a career high with 16 points and four field goals against Gardner-Webb.
Bevins is Back Many had concerns for Matt Bevins after the reigning All-America kicker got off to a tough start to the season, as he missed four of his first five field goal tries of the year (all four missed attempts were from 40-plus yards out). However, since knocking down his last three tries at Robert Morris, Bevins has been successful on 14-of-17 field goals and currently ranks No. 3 nationally in field goals per game (1.67) and No. 13 in scoring (8.89 points per game).
Rolling, Rolling, Rolling Matt Bevins has knocked down his last eight field goal attempts, doing so against VMI, Presbyterian College and Gardner-Webb. This marks the third time in his career Bevins has hit on eight-straight field goal attempts, as he also accomplished the feat twice in 2009.
Career Day for Matt Matt Bevins tied to career marks on Saturday, as the junior finished the game with 16 points scored and he knocked down four field goals. Bevins also racked up 16 points last year against VMI, while he is the first player in Big South history with three career games with four field goals (also against Elon in 2008 and VMI in 2009).
Fantastic 40s Mike Larsson finished the Gardner-Webb game by averaging 46.0 yards per punt, as the junior punted four times for 184 yards. Larsson has averaged 40 yards per punt in five of Liberty's last six games. Coming into the season, Larsson had averaged 40 yards per punt in three times in 19 games as a freshman and sophomore.
Big Time Burst from Broggin Danny Broggin jumpstarted Liberty's game against Gardner-Webb last weekend, when the redshirt senior returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. The return was Liberty's first special team touchdown of the 2010 season and was the first returned kick for a score since Aaron Hewlett scored on an 80-yard kickoff return against VMI on Nov. 7, 2009.
Total Team Effort Liberty currently leads the Big South in scoring defense, as the Flames (16.88 points per game allowed) rank more than nine points ahead of No. 2 Stony Brook (25.00 points per game allowed). The Flames' staunch defense is a team effort, as the Flames only have one tackler currently ranked inside the league's Top 25 in tacklers per game (Kyle O'Donnell at No. 9/6.8 per game).
Kyle Keeps It Up against the Bulldogs For the second time this year, Kyle O'Donnell finished a contest in double figures. The linebacker led the Flames in tackles against Gardner-Webb, posting 10 stops, including a career-best six solo tackles.
Welcome to the Club For the second weekend in a row, Liberty had a tackler join the 100-tackle club, as Patrick Bannon finished the Gardner-Webb game with four stops to crossover the career threshold. Kyle O'Donnell surpassed the career mark against Presbyterian on Oct. 30. O'Donnell now has 111 career tackles, while Bannon is right on the mark at 100. Liberty now has four tacklers with 100 more career stops, as Bannon and O'Donnell are joined by defensive captains Chad Brown (137 tackles) and Doncel Bolt (126 tackles).
Cory Is Coming On Defensive lineman Cory Freeman has started to enjoy his expanded playing time and the redshirt freshman is putting up the numbers to back it up. Freeman came into last weekend's game against Gardner-Webb with four stops in eight games, before he recorded a season-best six stops, including five assisted tackles and a pass breakup against the Bulldogs.
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