Bits and Bytes: Liberty Edition

One day away from kickoff – and thus it's time for our pre-game confabulation of informational tidbits and observations. for our pre-game confabulation of informational tidbits and observations. Game Scorecard
Sat 9/5/09 12:00 PM

Morgantown, WV

Mountaineer Field
Record: 0-0
Last Game
North Carolina W 31-30
TV: BE Local
Radio: Sirius, MSN
Record: 0-0
Last Game
Elon W 26-3
Rosters/ Bios
Press Release
Season Stats
2009 Schedule

Series: First Meeting
First Meeting: N/A
Last Meeting: N/A
Press Release
Season Stats
2009 Schedule

Click for Morgantown, West Virginia Forecast


Liberty offensive coordinator Brandon Streeter has a somewhat nebulous connection to West Virginia's football program. What is it? Answer at the end of this column.


The Flames start the season just outside two major FCS Top 25 polls. Liberty stands 27th in both the Coaches Poll and the Sports Network poll. The question is, how far does that put them, in terms of talent and performance, from the top of the class? West Virginia has seen teams from Villanova (fifth), James Madison (sixth) and Wofford (tenth) in previous years, and knows that those teams are not to be taken lightly. (So does Marshall, which dropped a game to New Hampshire (eight) last year, and Michigan, which took a collar from Appalachian State (first) in 2007.) Is the 27th-ranked team that far away in terms of talent, or is there a major drop-off somewhere along the line?


One of the common assumptions about this game, and one that we've seen from Mountaineer fans everywhere from Twitter to message boards, is that Liberty is physically small. Presumably that assumption is because it's an FCS school. Certainly, it's wrong. Liberty's veteran offensive front runs 285, 300, 270, 310 and 285 pounds, and its defensive trench group checks in at 285, 377 and 280. Three of the four linebackers weigh in at 225, 230 and 230 respectively. That's not small.


In this week's edition of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object, we have the turnover battle. Over the past eight seasons, WVU has force a whopping 236 turnovers, ranking the Mountaineers fourth in the nation over that time frame. Conversely, the Flames have been fanatical about protecting the ball, averaging a top twenty finish in turnover margin the past three seasons and giving the ball up just 15 times in 2008. Which will prove the stronger in 2009?


Noel Devine has put up several impressive stats during his two-year West Virginia career, but the most eye-catching to date might be his career average of 6.9 yards per carry. While he can't be expected to keep up such a pace (or can he?), might he have a shot at breaking West Virginia's career record in that area, currently held by Bob Moss at 7.8 yards per tote. That would be an incredible achievement. It will be interesting to see how, or if, that number fluctuates this season, and how Devine's workload might affect it. Of course, that's all secondary to winning games.


The so-called worldwide leader is famous for beating stories into the ground and spreading hype thicker than Kirk Herbstreit's GameDay makeup, but it also can't seem to get its thinking straight.

More than one college football pundit employed by the network has ripped on teams for scheduling patsies and playing too many of them at home. However, in the latest edition of its magazine, it notes that the Big East's path to cracking the preseason Top 25 should include the scheduling of MORE nonconference home games. The Mag points out that the Big East plays 35% of its out of conference contests on the road – more than any other BCS league. It adds that the Big East's 14 such games top the totals of the SEC, Big 12 and ACC combined. So, remember that the next time an ESPN puppet head starts blathering about toughening up schedules.


That is the question. And it concerns backup quarterback Geno Smith. Should West Virginia play him this year, or try to hold him out and preserve his redshirt? The answer is simple – if he's ready to play, then he should play. The idea of saving a year of eligibility, especially for a backup that might be counted on later this year, and certainly next year, just doesn't wash. Add in the fact that it's quarterback, a position of special circumstances where experience is vital, and it's a dead certainty. When the opportunity arises, get players that are ready to play into the game. And it doesn't have to be a blowout situation, either.


We have no problem with the fact that Liberty and its head coach, Danny Rocco, are coming to West Virginia with the goal of winning the game. That's exactly the attitude any team needs to take. But we're not so sure about the tweets being sent out by LibertyFootball, which is apparently the official voice of the school's football program. In addition to the "Expect To Win" mantra (which, as noted, is fine), one recent tweet proclaimed "PREPARE YOURSELF FOR A GIANTKILLING", while linking to a highlight film prepared especially for the game with a David and Goliath theme.

Again, there's no problem with stuff like that in house. But is it wise to put that sort of thing out in the public domain?And isn't that rather strong smack talk coming from an official school entity? Just asking.


Streeter was a record-setting Clemson quarterback during his playing career, which ran from 1997-99. He paired with Woody Dantzler during the latter two seasons to form a potent combination for the Tigers. The connection? Streeter and Dantzler were coached by none other than embattled former Mountaineer coach Rich Rodriguez, who served as Clemson's offensive coordinator in 1999 and 2000.

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