The 2018 prespring college football rankings, taking the first look at the Liberty Flames
No. 130: Liberty Flames
Spring Practice Starts: Feb. 10
Spring Game: None
Liberty Flames Prespring Status
If UAB can go from nothing to a bowl game right away, can’t Liberty become a factor out of the gate? Nah, but it won’t be a total speedbump.
It’s making the jump up in division after coming up with a nice 6-5 season, starting out with a shocking win over Baylor in an inconsistent, but interesting, year under Turner Gill. Now, it’s about building up the program and improving with each practice and each game.
The Flames have a nice offense, experience on the defensive front, and the juice from joining the FBS party, but the talent isn’t quite there to make a huge splash.
Liberty Flames Biggest Depth Chart Battle
Running back. Carrington Mosley was good at balancing out the offense with 896 yards and nine touchdowns, but the team’s leading rusher is gone. Frankie Hickson got a start and finished the year second on the team with 375 yards and two scores, but speed-back Kentory Matthews averaged over seven yards per carry. New recruit Troy Henderson was one of the team’s better signings, but more options need to emerge.
Liberty Flames Biggest Issue
Run defense. The Flames had a hard time holding up throughout the year, allowing 5.5 yards per carry and 26 touchdowns. When the D couldn’t hold up – like in the tough loss to Charleston Southern to end the season, allowing 229 rushing yards – there were massive problems. And now, with key tackle Gregg Storey dismissed from the team, more work needs to be done on the defensive interior.
Liberty Flames Biggest Positive
QB Steven Calvert. Last year as a skinny sophomore, the 6-2, 180-pounder balled out, throwing for close to 3,400 yards with 29 touchdowns and six interceptions. He’s not a runner, and he needs to be more accurate, but he’s not afraid to push the ball down the field.
Really, Why Are The Liberty Flames Ranked Here?
It’s going to take a while to build things up. There are plenty of nice pieces returning, especially on offense, but the experience on defense won’t matter early on. The spring is going to be all about developing even more of a rotation on the defensive front and at running back to try to control games, but the passing attack has to get used to trying to carry the team through the lean times in the new world.