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Flames Finally Hit the Field to Open Spring

March 27, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Marshall Roberts, Liberty's new special team coordinator, works with Chris Summers during a special teams drill on Friday afternoon.

Marshall Roberts, Liberty's new special team coordinator, works with Chris Summers during a special teams drill on Friday afternoon.

Spring Practice Photo Gallery

After having to delay the opening of their spring practice season yesterday, the Flames were finally able to take to the gridiron, Friday afternoon, as Liberty began its annual spring workout sessions with a light practice.

Weather remained a factor during the two-hour session in multiple facets, as three-time Big South Coach of the Year Danny Rocco moved his practice time up to avoid another incoming band of rain. Inclement weather over the last several weeks also delayed the installation of Liberty's new FieldTurf at Williams Stadium, forcing the Flames to practice on their grass practice field adjacent the Williams Football Operation Center.

The FieldTurf installation is nearly complete, as the installation crew is simply waiting for favorable weather to lay the rubber-pellet fill into the turf. The final stage of the installation project is slated to wrap up early next week, weather permitting.

An eager group of Flames took the grass surface around 3:30 p.m., which was roughly 30 minutes earlier than previously scheduled. During the 120-minute workout session, the squad returned to the fundamentals of the game, working on first and second down plays, as well as the team's base calls.

The practice, which was conducted without pads, was intended to allow the coaching staff, which includes four new faces in Ernie McCook (running game coordinator/tight ends), Wally Ake (secondary), Blaine McCorkle (offensive line) and Levern Belin (defensive line), the opportunity to begin to evaluate its 2009 roster.

Early during the workout, the Flames spent time working on special teams situations as well, which included an emphasis on all aspects of the punting game. Kickers Matt Bevins and Mike Larsson alternated punting the ball downfield on two different sets of lines.

Roughly 30 minutes later, the Flames allowed their running backs and wide receivers to work on ball security drills, while Liberty's blue-clad defensive players practiced their ball disruption drills.

During the later part of the practice, Liberty's two sets of lines took center focus, as the offensive and defensive lines worked on their pass rush and pass rush protection.

The workout was cut short by roughly 15 minutes, as the next band of rain returned to the greater Lynchburg area, leaving the team to retire to the locker room.

The Flames are scheduled to return to the grass practice field tomorrow morning, at 10:30 a.m. However, the forecast during the earlier morning workout session does not look favorable. For the latest information about spring practice and the rest of the happenings within the Liberty Athletics Department, be sure to check back with regularly.

Coach's Corner – With Head Coach Danny Rocco:
When asked about his insight into how practice ran, considering the conditions:
"Well, I really thought it was a decent start, for being the first practice offensively and defensively. Everyone really seemed to understand what they needed to do and what their roles were out on the field today.

"The team now understands how we practice, the tempo at which we practice and what the coaching staff's expectations are for practice.

"Offensively, it was a little hard in these conditions to be efficient with the football, with regards to throwing and catching the football. A number of balls squirted out and we lost some of our efficiency in the passing game.

"We seemed like we ran the right guys in the run game, and it seemed like we were blocking the right guys in the pass protection.

"Defensively, we only played one or two defense today. There was a lot of carryover from the winter workout sessions and even last fall.

"All things said, I was pleased with the effort. I think these guys want to win. I'm convinced they know how to win and now it is just a matter of going out there and doing it day in and day out, and that is the purpose of spring ball."