The Liberty Flames will bring their baggage from two straight losses into Saturday’s game against USF at Raymond James. The Flames will be playing in the hump game of a five-game road schedule before finishing their season with two home games. On the other hand this will be the third game in a six-game home stand, which will close the Bulls season. Liberty’s two straight losses came from very different opponents. The first was a 63-0 trouncing by Central Florida; the second came at the hands of a Division I-AA opponent Gardner-Webb, who won 25-29. “We’ve watched a lot of film over the last few days and one thing is they play hard, no matter what,” said junior quarterback Marquel Blackwell. “No matter how their game is they play hard.”Liberty has a 2-4 record this season, with its two wins coming in a row beating I-AA opponent Delaware State 34-7, and the following week beating Division II Wingate 41-13.USF’s passing heavy offense should do well against a Liberty team that has allowed 386 and 346 yards in passing in the last two games respectively.Coach Jim Leavitt has stated all week that neither he nor the team concern themselves with the divisions of their opponents. “I’m going to continue to improve each week – carry over from practice,” Blackwell said. “I’m going to continue to work hard. You can’t overlook anyone. Any given Saturday you can lose. We need to execute our game plan and limit our mistakes.”At his weekly press conference, Leavitt cited the examples of numerous I-AA teams who have defeated I-A teams.”If we’re not ready to play, Liberty can beat us,” Leavitt said. “I’m not disappointed in anyone we play.”Liberty has allowed an average of 411.5 yards per game this season, almost 100 more than USF.
“You just got to get out and play every week. We’re going to react to whatever they do,” Blackwell said.
This may be an opportunity for the Bulls’ running backs to have a breakout game. Thus far, freshman Clenton Crossley has been South Florida’s leading rusher. With injuries sidelining senior Derrick Rackard and Vince Brewer, Crossley’s 264 yards has led the team. With Liberty giving up an average of 202.3 yards per game, Crossley along with freshman Quinton Callum may be able to capitalize on a defense that gives up big yardage to the rush.
“Defensively they are young up front,” Leavitt said. “But they are active, and they are fast. The coach likes to play young players, but the more they play, the more experienced they get.”
On Liberty’s side of the ball, the Bulls’ defense will need to contain running back Eugene Goodman. Goodman will be seeing a majority of the Flames rushing plays, due to the injury of Verondre Barnes, Liberty’s leading rusher who has a sprained ankle and is not listed on the depth chart for Saturday. The defensive line will also be pitted against two 6-foot-6 offensive tackles, Jackie Burgess and Nick Barela. The Bulls will also need to contain quarterback Biff Parson, who brings 953 yards passing with only three interceptions this year.