Virginia Tech football preview: Liberty Flames

N/R R.P.I. Liberty #67th R.P.I. Virginia Tech:

Virginia Tech opens its first non-Beamerball season in virtually three decades or 29 years this Labor Day weekend down in the New River Valley under much ballyhooed inaugural game and season, with new head coach Justin Fuente.liberty lid

The 115,000 campus + online enrollment Liberty Flames of D-1aa fame -now gone F.C.S.- come a calling as a 28 underdog at 12:30pm on ESPN3, if you are live streaming at home. Liberty departed at least 1 mega stud baller –and same as mighty Virginia Tech is looking for a Pivotal replacement at Qb. Every preview I read has Liberty tabbed 2nd or 1st in the Big South football conference this year (in a six horse southerly race mind you). This I have to admit; surprises me, as did the opening point spread and this segues us neatly into… our signature word of the day.

Today’s word of the day is… upset!

noun
upset; plural noun: upsets
ˈəpsət/
  1. a state of being unhappy, disappointed, or worried
  2. “domestic upsets” an unexpected result or situation, especially in a sports competition.
  3. this week? LOL!
  4. next week? Let’s hope so!

Liberty Defense: (starters back=8)

  • 2015: Total D=54th, Passing D=90th! Rushing D=38th.
  • 38th in Sacks and 73rd in TFL (Tackles for a Loss)
  • Liberty just departed a whopping 9 Sack and 18 TFL all by his ownself D-lineman in one Mister Chima Uzowihe.
  • Guys who could help @Tech:
  • JaRon Green, Sr., DT (first team preseason all-conference, 36 tackles)
  • and Nick Newman, LB, Sr. (74 TT, 5.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 PBU, 1 FF)
  • Sources say De Erwin Dessources has been lame all camp with a rolled ankle. Might wanna target him in the run-game.

    modified 4-3 Set
    modified 43 Set
  • dLine has 3 starters back; does show a 40 front with a true Ng and one Dt after that. Will toggle De and Re (their nomenclature) into upright 2-point stances; even in goal-line and short yardage! The #42, Erwin Dessources kid -he of the above flat-tire- sure is small at the Re spot; love to see what Osterloh’s 100+ lb. weight advantage can do here?
  • Linebacker looks a bit thinner with only 1 returning starter; nonetheless, Mr. Newman above is a solid one. Liberty features an old-school Spur-Lb (more run fighting) in lieu of the traditional Sam. Will show inside Twins in more of a forty-two spread fighting set. Will edge blitz the Spur and the Will as well.
  • The Secondary returns 3 starters (Cb, Cb, Fs). Cb Chris Turner is the star and he is pre-season all-Big South. Liberty fields a lotta triads and quadratic mixed looks in their secondary and they do try to take the homerun throw away on passing downs. Should be some room to work underneath here and that should be a custom FuFense fit. The Flames rely on a lotta Safety cheat over help(s); both from the Fs and even the Ss. Lotta tight to medium man in front of that. Liberty will jump the short to intermediary stuff and go for the steal (INT); thereby leaving seams wide open behind that if/when they miss the pick. Not a real physical or weighty hind-4; either.

Defensive letter-grade: (in theory, this is the more experienced side of the Liberty ball and therefore the better one. In practice however, I did not see enough lateral East-West covering speed upon breaking last years tape here. Liberty is well-coached and they do not do anything real stupid, however, they just could not get there and they were not the hardest hitting D I’ve ever seen once they did arrive. Secondary has a few quirks -if not complexities to it- beyond that; this really should be a significant edge to coach-Fu and coach Corny: …D+ overall on a D-1 scale)

Liberty Offense: (returning starters=6)

  • Pro last year — to a Spread set (to fit Masha below) this year.
  • in 2015: Total O=61st, Passing O=29th, Rushing O=1o1st
  • Sacks allowed=34th, TFL allowed=7oth
  • Guys who could help @Tech:
  • (this space intentianlly left, blank)
  • Clearly, this was a pass heavy aerial assault.
  • However, Liberty -same as Vah.Tech- is breaking in a new O under an new offensive coordinator, one coach Joe Dailey.
  • Gone as well, is the rather handsome 2015 starting Qb -Josh Woodrum- who was good enough last year in college to work his way into the Colts pre-season training camp this year; after a brief spring stint with the NY.Giants. Might have even been good enough to win the 3-way 2016 VT Qb derby to put his departed talent(s) into perspective for you.

    last years Spread look, with wide side Wr stack
    last years Spread look, with wide side Wr stack
  • Qb Stephon Masha is expected to take over for the all-conference Woodrum for Liberty. Masha is a 6′ 199 lb. true dual-threat Qb which is a departure from he Woodrum forum-passing pocket ways. That said, Masha is a very strong looking Qb on film; in particular upstairs where he basically sports Ss or defensive looking cuts. Now mix in a legit 4.45 40-time and even if you do not have a Woodrum passing threat, you have an extreme rushing threat on the ground. Masha has a really deep wind-up that could be stripped from behind and his footwork is at times a bit uneven at best. Though make no mistake, he has the biggest arm on the field. Again; a very strong looking kid to be playing D-1aa Qb. Averages almost 8 ypc! 67% career passer although with only a so-so looking 5:4 career ratio.
  • oLine was beat up last year and only has 2 stalwarts back this year: left-Ot 6’4” 280 lb. junior Tanner Hartman and left-G 6’3” 300 lb. junior Michael Henderman. Clearly Liberty runs left on 3rd and short.
  • Rb Todd Macon had a good enough mighty mite rookie 2015; 5’9” and a stalky looking 210 lbs. of nearly 600 rushing and 8 TD’s ain’t half bad work for a kid a few months beyond his high school prom; if you can get it.
  • A r-shirt Freshman getting his first collegiate start at C (6’1” 3o1 lb. Donte Duff) does not seem like a good match-up to me. All the more so if Mr. Duff becomes, unSettled. That being said, the Liberty oLine is sure D-1 sized to me. As two of the three in their Ot rotation go 339 (pounds) or more!
  • Wr/Te is very deep, as basically everyone is back sans Darrin Peterson who was prolly an N.F.L. Europe fringe pro. May not be a star here with Peterson graduated. However, there is tons of experience as almost 175 total catches return.
  • Turner Gill is a creative offensive (head) coach; some trickeration in this one would surprise me nil.

Offensive  letter-grade: (I do like coach Gill, we all know this. However, he just does not have the horses nor does he have the returning experience. That plus a new offensive coordinator in tow and systemic swap to a more full-time spread sets avers and posits misQ’s, possibly even turnover(s) to me; D in D-1 terms)

Flames Special Teams: (1 P returns)
Wr Zac Parker is no bad Pr man and he did take one punt back to the house last year. Last year Liberty was: 66th in punt returns and 94th in KO returns and both returners are back. 69th in punt coverage and 53rd in KO coverage is pedestrian to decent enough. Punter Trey Turner is the best P on the field this Saturday afternoon; as he surely has the biggest leg; albeit it with one punt snuffed out last season. And oh by the way, Liberty had a never seen before five (5) total FGA’s blocked last year! That said, K Alex Probert -he of the 70 yard high school fame- was said to have won this vacant Kicker job even before enrolling. As this was something of a kick-game signing coup over in Lynchburg, Va.

Special Teams letter-grade: (not bad with the new kicker coming no board; although that many blocks is a real stone in Liberty’s shoe. This lot looks improved on paper, if they can clean such a messy block game up: B in D-1 terms)

X-factor(s):

  • Motive: look ahead trap game for VT. Liberty’s biggest game of the year. Edge=Flames. (not that it matters much)sunny day
  • Weather: clear, sunny, 78f for the moment
  • Health: Liberty and VT both seem surprisingly clean here; Thank you coach God. Push.
  • Penalties: coach-Fu teams’ have been sloppy; historically, here. Edge=Liberty.
  • Fatigue: N/A (not applicable, to early for this)

 

The only thing that R.A.T.T. counts in a glorified scrimmage such as this is... what???

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Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:
Curiously enough, Liberty has carved two B.C.S. (win) notches in its little ole D-1aa belt in the last two seasons. However, and to be direct, I do not foresee them carving a third …at least not until 2017.

can little ole D-1aa Liberty, muscle up?!?
can little ole D-1aa Liberty, muscle up?!?

This version of Liberty fans the D-1aa Flames; quite literally; as Liberty is said to enjoy one of the more vociferous F.C.S. fan-bases in college football. Which is pleasing enough; although that is not enough here; at least not with what some pre-season previews listing nine full departing starters from last years somewhat underachieving 6-5 club. As Liberty has been a Big South player if not contender most years.

***

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is… from what I saw of coach-Fu at Memphis, coach-Fu was NOT, I repeat he was not shy, not recalcitrant, nor was he the least bit concerned about any old-school adages regarding running up the score vs. an over matched game number one or game number two tasty looking and seemingly cupcake caliber opponent.

Not at all; as a 63-7 curb stomping opener vs. Missouri State last year and a likewise total 63-nil ass kicking of 2014 Austin Peay would agree. Lane Stadium visitors hereby be warned… Coach-Fu will beat the damn breaks off of your O.O.C. visiting team, when and as he can. As that’s just how his tempo needy and therefore repetitiously starving offense rolls and it will roll you right on up.

Accordingly, if this one is close even after 15-20 minutes, you can pretty much surrender the Battle of Bristol.

upset Index=3% (if that)

Virginia Tech=55, Liberty=6

LETS GO!

HOKIES!

bourbonstreet**

snoopy labor day 2016

12 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Because of new O I would not place too much emphasis on “first 15 minutes’. Sounds like they kept head banging to a minimum this fall so might take a bit to get game muscles going. But mostly just new stuff. Thinking Bud will keep things stirring in Liberty backfield all day. He is the known quantity!

    1. well, from what I could find Sir; Liberty was an average D-1aa last year. Now 9 starters removed from average. You do the maths… as to me? We gotta whoop a team like that good and hard from the word “go”.

      (unless he is not willing to show his Tennessee hand? that’s a different story)

      b.street

  2. I’d really much prefer a little showing off than to see another Furman (2008) game. In fact the whole 2008 season still gives me conniptions ! Go Fuente version Hokies!

    1. agry.

      And methinks you kinda sorta have to hot-dog or R.U.T.S. with an O such as this one.
      This one needs all the reps it can get.

      b.street

      1. Bingo, we can’t afford to sit on a lead. This is valuable learning and practice in-game experience!

  3. Blow outs are what we need
    good 2.5-3 quarters of work for starters and 1-1.5 quarters of playing time for the back ups
    nothing like game time experience

    1. agry, ANY new offense needs an opening blow-out W like a dead man needs a coffin.

      b.street

    2. The last 30 years are of no consequence to this game/season. Here’s to hoping the team plays like it. It’s a new era in VT football and it’s time to shed the phantoms of the past: can’t win in the Carrier Dome; the perception (although far from reality) of there is no stopping the GT O; offense is a foreign concept in Blacksburg; or Pitt is a program to be feared. VT starts down the road of putting those old norms behind it this Saturday. Let the Fuente era begin!

      1. I kinda think it is a clean slate.
        Even with such star-power refugee coaches on D.
        (which is quite, odd; in applied sports psych terms)

        Nonetheless, methinks enough of the VT fan-base was stale and that VT needed a good airing-out. Seems to me VT got just that.

        b.street

  4. All this talk about blowouts makes me nervous. Haven’t we learned anything in the past 30 years?? “Pride goeth before a fall”, gentlemen (and ladies). Rather talk about blowouts AFTER the game.

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