BGS had the opportunity to speak with Duke Cuneo of libertyflamesnation.com regarding the matchup this Saturday in Morgantown. Here is what Duke had to say about Liberty’s gameplan, what they are prepared to face, and if there is any possibility of an upset.
What will Liberty’s gameplan be going into Morgantown?
Without crawling into the heads of the coaching staff, I think Liberty will be looking to follow the traditional playbook for a big upset. Limit mistakes to an absolute minimum in terms of turnovers and penalties. Head Coach Turner Gill stated in his press conference that they would like to see no more than 3 penalties this week. Outside of that, going against as prolific of an offense as WVU, expect Liberty to attempt to play a ball/clock control type of game. The Flames followed this sort of offensive strategy against James Madison in the FCS playoffs last year with much success. That obviously will not be easy against a much more talented WVU defense though. Expect the Flames to attempt to do what they traditionally do well; that is get the ball to All-American WR Darrin Peterson as much as possible, and utilize their two Senior RB’s in Des Rice and DJ Abnar.
What deficiencies do you see that Liberty may be able to exploit?
Any time an FCS program is going up against a team as successful and talented as WVU, there probably aren’t a lot of deficiencies to be exploited. Going down the roster, the only place Liberty probably has a decisive advantage would be in Kicker John Lunsford, who I am told actually has a pretty good shot of not just making the NFL but being drafted. He’s made a 60 yarder, and makes kicks in the 45-55 yard range look routine. Other than that, Liberty’s offense is certainly more balanced than what the Mountaineers saw last week in their blowout of Georgia Southern, and they will look to use that to get some opportunities. Defensively, look for the Flames to bend but not break. Coach Gill puts a big emphasis on limiting what he calls “explosive plays”. That will be difficult with so many talented athletes on the outside, but that is certainly what LU will be looking to do.
Is there a concern from Liberty regarding the speed of WVU’s outside receivers?
There certainly should be. One of the bigger question marks coming into the season was Liberty’s relative youth and inexperience in the secondary. Both starting CB’s have experience, but the Safeties in particular are still unknown quantities. Even on LU’s best day, they will have more than their hands full with these WVU athletes.
Is it possible that Liberty can pull the upset and how?
It’s always possible. Liberty has played very competitively against FBS and even Power 5 schools over the last several years. Going back to 2009 when the Flames visited Morgantown, Liberty has proven they can hang around in these games. A little more recently Liberty had a late 3rd quarter lead at North Carolina last season, lost by a late field goal to Wake Forest, and also fell in a one possession game to Kent State. So is an upset likely? Absolutely not. This edition of the Mountaineers looks like the best squad Liberty has faced in quite a long time. It would take the Flames having the perfect game, catching a few breaks, and West Virginia simply having a really poor game for this thing to go LU’s way on Saturday. In the eyes of the fan base, this game will be a success if Liberty can keep the score respectable, be in it at halftime, and have no significant injuries. This is a big game for the guys on the field, but it has practically zero bearing on how Liberty’s season will be measured.
What is your final score prediction?
My partner Jon has a prediction article at our site, which is www.LibertyFlamesNation.com. Feel free to stop on by and check that out if you get the chance! I will go ahead and make my own prediction though, which is
West Virginia 48
Thanks so much for having me.