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Big South Opponent Preview: VMI

August 25, 2010  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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As a freshman, punter Mike Larsson boots another punt down the field at Foster Stadium, while the VMI corps of cadets watche from the stands.

As a freshman, punter Mike Larsson boots another punt down the field at Foster Stadium, while the VMI corps of cadets watche from the stands.

During this week between training camp and the Flames preparation week for St. Francis, is going to preview the Flames Big South Conference opponents. Each preview will include audio interviews with head coach Danny Rocco and the opposing head coach.

We continue today's week-long series by taking a look at VMI. The Keydet program is predicted to finish in sixth place in this year's Big South Conference standings, as selected by the league's head coaches and media members.

The Keydets are coming off a 2-9 campaign in 2009, which including a 1-5 mark in Big South play. VMI opened the year strong with a 14-13 victory over Robert Morris (Liberty's 2010 opponent on Sept. 18), but could only must one additional victory the rest of the year (a 31-20 win over Presbyterian).

VMI's high-powered option offense allowed the Keydets to end the season ranked No. 1 in the country in rushing offense (276.73 yards per game), but VMI finished last in passing offense (No. 118/69.91 yards per game).

Turnovers proved closely for the Keydets, as VMI ranked tied for second to last in the country in turnover margin (No. 116/-1.73), having committed a FCS-high 27 fumbles lost and eight interceptions. As a point of comparison, Liberty led the country in turnover margin (+1.91), having finished the year with only three fumbles lost and five interceptions.

Fourth-year head coach Sparky Woods is looking to revamp the Keydets in 2010, transitioning the military institute's option offense into more of a multiple formation. A total of 19 starters return from last year's squad and will look to help Woods make this offensive scheme adjustment, including six on offense and 10 players on defense.

In their last meeting, VMI committed eight of its national-leading 35 turnovers, allowing No. 16 Liberty to pick up a 54-14 victory on Senior Night inside Williams Stadium on Nov. 7, 2009. The win extended Liberty's Big South Conference record winning streak to 15-straight games. All-America kicker Matt Bevins set a new program record on the night, scoring 16 points on four field goals and four extra points.

The last time that Liberty made the trek over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Lexington, Va., Liberty overcame a sluggish start to post a 38-26 victory over VMI inside Foster Stadium on Nov. 8, 2008. With the 12-point victory, the Flames secured their second-straight Big South title. Current NFL running back Rashad Jennings (who is with the Jacksonville Jaguars) was one of the offensive starts in the game, as he scored two rushing touchdowns and ran for 147 yards on 24 rushing attempts.

Location: Lexington, Va.
Enrollment: 1,500
Founded: 1839
Nickname: Keydets
Colors: Red, White and Yellow
Conference: Big South
Stadium: Foster Stadium (10,000)
Field: Alumni Memorial Field
Surface: Bermuda
Superintendent: General J.H. Binford Peay III
Athletic Director: Donny White

Head Coach: Sparky Woods (Carson-Newman, '76)
Record at School: 6-16 (Third Year)
Career Record: 69-62-5 (12 years)
Assistant Coaches:
Matt Campbell - Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line
A.J. Christoff - Defensive Coordinator/Secondary
George Handler - Tight Ends
Greg Harris - Outside Linebackers
Winston October - Wide Receivers
Greg Shockley - Running Backs
Paul Soltis - Linebackers
Mayur Chaudhari - Safeties
Don Woods - Defensive Line

Offensive Formation: Multiple
Defensive Formation: 3-4
Lettermen Returning: 36 (17 Off., 16 Def., 3 SP)
Lettermen Lost: 16 (10 Off., 5 Def., 1 SP)
Starters Returning: 19 (6 Off., 10 Def., 3 SP)
Starters Lost: 6 (5 Off., 1 Def., 1 SP)
Offensive/Defensive Starters Returning: 6/10
Offensive Starters Returning: Rob Bailey (OL), Bryan Barnson (WR), Aaron Blue (OL), Phillip Pickens (OL), Mario Scott (WR) and Bo Wren (OL)
Defensive Starters Returning: Damiso Alexander (DL), Byron Allen (DB), Ben Brandt (DL), Emilio Calvin (OLB), Eric Church (LB), A.J. Gross (LB), Juan Thrasher (DB), Greg Walker (DB), Kris Ware (OLB), Josh Wine (DL)

Athletics Web Site - Link
2009 Record: 2-9 – Link to Results
Conference Record/Finish: 1-5/5th
2009 Statistics – Link to Statistics
2010 Schedule – Link to Schedule

Series Results
Series Record: Liberty leads the series, 6-3
Last Meeting at Home: Nov. 7, 2009
Liberty, 54-14 – Link to RecapBox Score
Last Meeting on the Road: Nov. 8, 2008
Liberty, 38-26 – Link to RecapBox Score
Current Series Streak: Liberty, W4