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Liberty Flames - Indiana State Sycamores Game Preview

Can Liberty start the season 3-0?

NCAA Football: Liberty at Baylor
Carrington Mosley hopes to keep running over defenses as the Flames take on the Sycamores.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Start Time: Saturday, September 16th, 2017, 6:00 PM Eastern

TV: LFSN TV (WFFP Lynchburg 24/ESPN3/Big South Network/The Walk Network)

Stream: WatchESPN

Location: Williams Stadium, Lynchburg, Virginia

Betting Line: N/A

Previous Meeting: 9/27/2014 was the last meeting with Indiana State winning 38-19; Indiana State leads the all-time series 0-2.

The Liberty Flames look to continue their momentum and move to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2008 when they host the Indiana State Sycamores at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, VA on Saturday September 16th at 6:00 PM Eastern. Indiana State looks to halt an 0-2 start to the season, their first under head coach Curt Mallory. This is Mallory’s first season as a head coach after being a defensive assistant since 1992 under various Division I programs in the Midwest. His father, Bill Mallory, is the all-time winningest coach at Indiana State University, having led the program from 1984 to 1996. The Flames have a major advantage in the coaching department.

Turner Gill’s squad has been bulldozing opposing defenses with a well-oiled machine on offense. After hanging 48 points on Baylor, Liberty unleashed 58 points on Morehead State. Led by quarterback Stephen Calvert, the sophomore has thrown eight touchdowns and no interceptions while completing over 70% of his passes and averaging 364 yards per game. Can he keep it up? Indiana State allowed a 61.4% completion percentage, 202 yards on 27 completions, and a touchdown in their first game against Eastern Illinois.

In addition to the solid pass defense, the Sycamores held the Eastern Illinois rushing attack to under 100 yards and 4.1 yards per carry (after removing the Eastern Illinois quarterback’s 10 carries for -19 yards). Liberty’s ground game is averaging 167 yards per game and is led by Carrington Mosley with 134 yards and a 4.2 YPC average and by Kentory Matthews with 103 yards, a 7.9 YPC average, and two touchdowns. If Indiana State is going to slow down the Flames’ offense, they need to target the offensive line, which has given up two sacks and 15 other tackles for a loss so far in 2017.

The Sycamore offense is moving to a pro-style in 2017. They have used two quarterbacks in both games so far in 2017; if you use two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback. Cade Sparks and Isaac Hunter combined for seven completions on 19 attempts against Eastern Illinois before an encore of nine completions on 19 attempts against Tennessee in their second game. Sparks got the majority of the work against Tennessee and will likely lead the team against the Flames.

Unlike at quarterback, running back is locked down by star Lemonte Booker who is averaging over five yards per carry and has one rushing and one receiving touchdown. With 230 yards of rushing himself, he needs to be a focal point of the Flames’ defensive game plan. The Flames are allowing 5.0 yards per carry and 159 yards on the ground in games so far this season.

I predict Liberty wins 38-24 at home. Liberty is really clicking on offense at the moment and Indiana State hasn’t shown the ability to pass the ball well. I think they will surprise the Flames initially before the home team settles in and takes care of business. An underrated part of the team for the Flames has been kicker Alex Probert, who has hit all seven field goal attempts and all 11 extra points. I don’t think it will come to it but he has the ability to be a difference-maker. If the Flames take down the Sycamores, this adds further ingredients to the makings of a special season in Lynchburg.