Liberty vs NC State Preview: Why the Hell Not?

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For those of us who have been pretending to be algae eaters, sucking on the glass of our TVs trying to consume any traces of football that may exist, this Saturday is well overdue.  Liberty isn’t exactly… let’s say… the most ferocious program in the world, but this game will be a good sandbox for what to look out for and where we will be heading this season as the talent level slowly ramps up.

First, a Little About Liberty
Their mascot is “the flames”, for those who didn’t know.  Discuss clever quips amongst yourselves.

The Flames only lost three games last season in their admittedly weak conference, finishing first in the Big South conference.  They only lost two games in 2009.  Their losses include Robert Morris who tied for first in the NEC, JMU right after dismantling VT, and Coastal Carolina in a pretty high-scoring 45-31 defeat.  Alright, so maybe they aren’t the ’72 Dolphins, but they’ve done “alright” and better teams have been surprised by worse teams in the past 10 years.  No reason to worry, but… you know… it’s a football game.  Be ready.

The Flames finished last season ranked #19 in the FCS and are #18 pre-season in the coaches’ FCS poll.  Be it good, bad, or indifferent, they have a fairly tough September schedule.  They play our beloved Wolfpack, but then have to square up against defending NEC champs Robert Morris, regularly surprising James Madison, and will be going on the road against well-respected Lehigh.  I guess what I’m getting at is that Liberty does have an emotional initiative to gain some momentum moving into their next series of games, starting with NC State.  Unfortunately, emotion only gets so far when you have Tenuta overloading your pocket every-single-f’ing-play.

The real tools of Liberty will be a returning QB, Mike Brown.  Brown ranked #1 in his division in total offense, #7 in passing efficiency, and #8 in passing yards per game.  He’s also the first QB in his conference’s history to pass for more than 200 yards in every game of the season.  Mid-major school or not, that’s nothing to take too lightly.  What you have behind center in Brown is a QB that could prove surprising for any team with a weak or unprepared secondary.

What To Watch Out For
For this game, let’s just focus on our team.  Yesterday, NC State released their opening game depth chart.  For the most part, freshmen are limited to either the two-deep position or special team starting positions.  Everyone should be atleast somewhat experienced on the field.  Despite that, some positions are still fairly untested and areas of concern, at least until we see the results on the field.

It’s worth noting that all we have heard from the staff and the team is that everyone feels confident in how solid the team operates, even the ‘untested positions’.  Regardless, given the good ole NC State karma, color me unimpressed until the results are on full display on the field.

Cornerback is going to be a position worth paying attention to due to the loss of injury prone Jarvis Byrd, marked to be replaced by CJ Wilson.  Wilson is a player that started as a redshirt freshmen in the 2009 season, played in all 12 games of that season, and started every game last season running in two picks for touchdowns against Central Florida and Boston College.  Wilson will be filling in for Byrd, opposite of David Amerison.  Amerson had big starts against FSU and WVU last season, but is still young.  With only one season under his belt and already starting in the secondary, it will be interesting to see how he fits into the defense schema.

Special Teams is going to be hairy.  With three inexperienced players starting at punter(P – Wil Baumann), place kicker(PK – Niklas Sade), and long snapper (LS – Scott Thompson), we’ll just have to see what shows up on the field.  As happens with most of these FCS games, expect O’Brien to play his two-deeps later in the game which may give us an opportunity to see our punter and long snapper in action.

Obviously, the elephant in the room is how rookie quarterback Mike Glennon will perform.  It’s important to note that Glennon isn’t as much of a wildcard as a redshirt freshmen or sophomore rookie.  Glennon arrived at NC State in 2008, was redshirted his first year, and has spent the last two years riding the bench behind Russell Wilson.  I guess the point is that he’s been “in training” for a pretty long time.  The benefit Glennon has over Russell is his physical size.  Russell Wilson, listed as 5-11 and 210lbs according to GoPack.com when he was at NC State, is over half a foot shorter than the 6-6 and 232lb Glennon.  With that comes a longer stature and an arm to match.  Still, what made Russell special was his ability to draw the play out, extend the clock, and think on the fly.  These are completely untested metrics for Mike Glennon and are what we can be paying attention to during this Liberty game. 

Hopefully, if everything is executed appropriately, we won’t have an opportunity to see how Glennon does under pressure.  Word from the practice field is that the O-line is much more solid than it was last season.  Given the nature of this Saturday’s game, it will be a fairly low-threat exercise in O-line effectiveness.

Why To Watch
This is valid for every powder-puff game, but what we are looking for in this early contest against a fairly soft opponent is execution.  When we set out to run a play, does the play actually unfold how we expect it to?  Does everyone on offense make their routes?  Does everyone on defense cover their men?  It’s just about how smoothly the machine works in an ideal situation.  IF NC State appears to operate with a smooth rythm and Glennon is able to hit all his receivers, then we can move on to asking ourselves how things will change with some slightly harder competition in Winston-Salem the following Saturday.

Regardless, luckily NC State has a decent three-game stretch (Liberty, @Wake Forest, South Alabama) to work out any kinks in the execution.

About NCStatePride

***ABOUT THE AUTHOR: NCStatePride has been writing for StateFansNation.com since 2010 and is a 2009 graduate of the College of Engineering.

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27 Responses to Liberty vs NC State Preview: Why the Hell Not?

  1. baxter 08/30/2011 at 1:13 PM #

    They also have a WR threat and a lot of former D1 transplants.

  2. PackFamily 08/30/2011 at 1:49 PM #

    Special Teams may be untested, but i’ll take a true freshman over the punters we’ve had over the last few years. I bet there were linemen who could’ve done a better job last year.

    I think the offense will look much better after we get Greene back at RB. He is just a more talented runner that adds a new dimension to our offense that the other guys can’t match. I talked with Underwood after the last two spring games (like me, he grew up in WNY) and he seems like a deserving kid with a great attitude. After this Spring Game, he was is street clothes and didn’t think he would be back. Still, he was honest about it and had nothing but good things to say about TOB and staff. I was glad to see him get another shot as he is a reliable back.

  3. tjfoose1 08/30/2011 at 2:32 PM #

    Something to watch out for… Their QB is a 2-time conference player of the year. Last year at QB, two years ago as a WR.

    He led the nation in total offense last year, and was also his teams leading rusher (800+ yds).

    POY as QB, POY as WR, and team’s leading rusher. Yeah, he’s pretty good.

    http://www.nfldraftscout.com/ratings/dsprofile.php?pyid=103571&draftyear=2012&genpos=QB

  4. NCStatePride 08/30/2011 at 2:51 PM #

    The QB really is no joke. As I wrote, he poses a threat to weak secondaries if for no other reason then the mass of yards he goes for. Passing for 200 yards in every game you play is no joke.

    That being said, the fact that this QB is as good as he is, but Liberty still isn’t winning their division playoffs is telling of what the whole body of work really is. I’m not concerned.

  5. TruthBKnown Returns 08/30/2011 at 2:53 PM #

    How did Liberty fare against their D-1A opponents last season?

  6. Plz2BStateFan 08/30/2011 at 2:53 PM #

    Just FYI. Liberty fans think they have more than a decent chance to beat us. They are conference champs 5 years running. They have a 6’4″ 380 lbs nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. He is mush larger than anything on our team. And the QB mentioned before.

    Watch out for cocky Liberty fans at the game.

    All eyes will be on Glennon.

  7. NCStatePride 08/30/2011 at 2:58 PM #

    TruthBKnown Returns,
    In ’09 they played WVU and lost 20-33 and that’s all I saw (unless I missed something). The reports I saw on the ’09 WVU game was that they were more than pleased with “staying competitive”. Take from that what you will.

    Plz2BStateFan,
    App St fans were pretty cocky to when they faced one of the worst NC State teams in years.

  8. coach13 08/30/2011 at 3:06 PM #

    If we don’t put up at least 41 pts, and keep them under 13, I’d say we are in for a long season of disappointment.

    Also, I heard the Liberty coach talk about the big guy on the radio. He mentioned strong, athletic, but not the word I was looking for, quick. I am guessing big and slooooooowwwwwww. Long as Glennon doesn’t run to him or throw directly over him, I am betting he is not that effective, plus he’s coming off an injury.

  9. old13 08/30/2011 at 3:29 PM #

    Last year’s OL was primarily sophmores; they’re juniors this year. If the old addage about OL needing 2-3 years to mature holds any water, this should be their year to shine. Hope it holds true!

    As for the Liberty NG, by size alone he should clog up the middle pretty well. But that can be negated, or even used to our advantage if he’s not very quick, by play calling and blocking schemes.

    My hope for this game is that the players actually approach the game like it’s a big conference game and not get lulled to sleep by the opposition being a supposed “cupcake!” Otherwise, they don’t focus to execute plays properly, don’t get into good game habits, and could make it a long afternoon. I think the story TOB told on Nate about last year’s first D series is a good lesson for all the players and not just DJ. Focus and play as you’ve been coached! Forget who you’re playing!

    GO PACK!

  10. 4in12 08/30/2011 at 3:45 PM #

    “They have a 6’4″ 380 lbs nose tackle in a 3-4 defense”

    Asa Chapman. He was injured in the pre-season and it looks to be a game-time decision whether we see him or not.

  11. Prowling Woofie 08/30/2011 at 3:49 PM #

    Re: Jabba the Hut in the middle

    Maybe that will remove the damned “First and Ten Dive up the Middle” from Bible’s playbook this weekend !

    If Glennon gets taken down by a 380 lb noseguard, we’ve got real issues this year… besides, I imagine he won’t like having Gentry slam into him repeatedly !

  12. JSRy2k 08/30/2011 at 6:11 PM #

    @coach13 – I know what you’re saying about ‘if we don’t execute it’ll be a long season’, but remember VA Tech losing to Boise State and JMU last year before rattling off 11 wins in a row.

    This game may show signs of what’s to come…and it may not.

    I like TOB’s quote this week about treating EVERY game like the ACC Championship. If the players truly prepare as such, and if we continue to have on-field leaders who get in another’s face if necessary as TOB commented (I think in his first radio show), then we’re in for a good season.

  13. tjfoose1 08/30/2011 at 7:04 PM #

    We ain’t VT in 2010.

  14. Wolfacct 08/30/2011 at 7:07 PM #

    How much of the offense do we show in this game? Seems we would want to keep some surprises for Wake. Any thoughts?

  15. Packfan28 08/30/2011 at 8:14 PM #

    “The Wolfpack won’t have to deal with Liberty’s 380-pound-NG Asa Chapman on Saturday, the Lynchburg (Va.) News & Advance reports. Chapman has been suspended indefinitely after his arrest on two drug charges – felony possession of cocaine and misdemeanor marijuana possession – at a Friday traffic stop.”

  16. leewolf 08/30/2011 at 8:22 PM #

    Just about to post that Packfan, certainly helps our cause not that I’m overly worried.

    I’m just ready to go watch some Pack football and do some tailgating. Saturday cannot get here soon enough!

  17. TruthBKnown Returns 08/31/2011 at 9:49 AM #

    We ain’t VT in 2010.

    No, we aren’t (not yet, anyway).

    Good thing for us that Liberty ain’t James Madison in 2010, either. :)

  18. logarithm 08/31/2011 at 11:00 AM #

    With their 3-4, I’m glad we have good blocking and passing options at TE and back. Never know where the blitz is coming from. I don’t expect to see much use of Glennon’s height to pass into a clogged up middle.

    And I think our D-line and LBs can keep their excellent QB off-balance enough to minimize the threat to our secondary.

    I’m also on TJ Graham drop-watch. If he’s going to be a leader and mentor to younger receivers, his hands need to show up on gameday instead of just his legs.

  19. TruthBKnown Returns 08/31/2011 at 12:29 PM #

    Maybe that will remove the damned “First and Ten Dive up the Middle” from Bible’s playbook this weekend!

    Since Chapman is gone, looks like we’ll see the dive up the middle plays on first down once again. :(

  20. Prowling Woofie 08/31/2011 at 12:39 PM #

    TBKR,

    Just means a couple more beers at the tailgate…

    Wallop Jerry’s Kids, Pack !!!

  21. Bellyfullasoul 08/31/2011 at 10:11 PM #

    Well looks like Liberty might not be quite so pumped for the game Saturday since their “giant” mule got busted running the coke for the pregame bump

  22. wolfbuff 09/02/2011 at 3:09 PM #

    Why To Watch
    This is valid for every powder-puff game, but…(screeeeech!)

    Why to watch? Because it’s F’ing Wolfpack Football! And the 5 month drought of interesting sports is over. Let the games begin!

  23. 61Packer 09/02/2011 at 4:12 PM #

    Haven’t heard anything about Liberty’s coach. Could he be a factor Saturday? A good coach can inflict much damage if his timing is right, like Jerry Moore did in Ann Arbor 4 years ago on September 1. I was there that day to witness the unthinkable, and I now know that anything’s possible these days. Also, Philip Rivers’ first game almost turned out to be a nightmare vs Arkansas State.

    Among JMU, Liberty and Richmond tomorrow, any one of them could pull an upset, even all of them. The Pack needs to approach this one like it’s an ACC game, and I imagine the Marine will do just that.

  24. SaccoV 09/02/2011 at 4:30 PM #

    Since the “Flames” mascot and logo are a bit … apocalyptic, can we just rename them the “Dennis Horners”?

  25. TruthBKnown Returns 09/02/2011 at 5:49 PM #

    I know they’re probably decent and all, and I mean them no disrespect. But there is absolutely NO REASON we shouldn’t win tomorrow night without much trouble.

    They have a few decent players. Last time I checked, so do WE!

    Seriously, the only way we lose this game is if we take them lightly. I can’t imagine a 5th year TOB-coached team EVER taking a team lightly.

    GO PACK!

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