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2014 Football Opponent Preview: Monmouth
In addition to its position previews and player features, LibertyFlames.com will take a look at each of Liberty's 2014 Big South football opponents during the month of August.
During the opponent series, the website will bring you audio from the head coach of each football program, as LFSN's Nick Pierce had a chance to talk with them during Big South Football Media Day in July.
The series continues today with a look at the Monmouth Hawks, who were predicted to finish in fifth place in the 2014 Big South Football Preseason Poll released in July.
The Hawks will be the first of two new associate members to the Big South during the next two seasons, helping the conference keep its automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs after the departure of Stony Book (2012) and VMI (2013). Next year's new league member will be Kennesaw State. Both Monmouth and Kennesaw State are associate members for football only.
Monmouth is entering its 22nd season under head football coach Kevin Callahan, the program's head coach since its inception in 1993. During his two-decade span in West Long Branch, N.J., Callahan has posted 120 victories, which is the 14th most by active FCS head coaches in the country.
During its 17-year run in the Northeast Conference, Monmouth won five conference titles and Callahan was a three-time coach of the year (1998, 2003 and 2006). The Hawks also had two postseason appearances: 2003 ECAC Football Classic and the 2006 Gridiron Classic.
Monmouth played 2013 as an independent, posting a 6-6 record that included wins in three of its last five games.
The Hawks did square off against one Big South foe in 2013, losing to Liberty, 45-15, in the Flames' home opener at Williams Stadium on Sept. 7. The Flames racked up nearly 400 yards in total offense (399) in the contest, during which Josh Woodrum was 13-of-19 for 237 yards with two touchdown passes. Darrin Peterson posted his first of four 100-yard games in 2013, finishing the contest with three receptions for 124 yards, including a pair of touchdown receptions (28 and 85 yards).
The Flames' stout defense limited the Hawks for the first three quarters of the game, as Liberty entered the fourth with a 45-6 lead before surrendering two late scores (touchdown and field goal).
The Hawks return one of two 1,000-yard rushers from 2013 in redshirt senior running back Kwabena Asante (1,090 yards, eight touchdowns). Quarterback Brandon Hill (181-of-323, 2,361 yards, 19 touchdowns) will have his two top targets back from last season in Neal Sterling (647 yards, six touchdowns) and Lamar Davenport (348 yards, three touchdowns).
Monmouth will be looking for new leadership on defense after losing its top four tacklers in 2013 to graduation. Defensive back Joe Johnson (49 tackles) and defensive lineman Darnelle Leslie (35 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, 7.5 sacks) will look to take over that leadership role this season.
November could be a challenging test for the Hawks with back-to-back road trips to Liberty on Nov. 8 and Coastal Carolina on Nov. 15.
LibertyFlames.com will continue its Big South opponent preview on Sunday when the website looks at the Runnin' Bulldogs of Gardner-Webb.