U.Va., Liberty set for first football meeting
Flames are in their first season as an FBS independent
Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall was in his sixth season as the head coach at BYU in 2011 when the program left the Mountain West Conference and began its tenure as one of the few independent college football teams in the country. 3 p.m. NBCSW
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Mendenhall is well versed in the challenges of coaching an independent, which begin with filling the schedule.
“It’s refreshing to not have to travel all across the country to play games that not
many people are interested in later in the year,” he said. “Early in the year as an independent, there is strong interest because people are willing to play. Later in the year when conference races begin, folks don’t line up to play BYU or travel to Provo.”
Liberty is in its first season as an FBS independent. The Flames (4-4) come into Scott Stadium on Saturday after playing back-to-back games in New Mexico earlier in the year and coming off a triple-overtime loss last weekend at Massachusetts.
Saturday’s game at Virginia (6-3, 4-2 ACC) will mark the first meeting between the programs. They’ve agreed to play five more times, including next season in Scott Stadium. The final game in the series is scheduled for 2030.
“I like the idea in terms of scheduling philosophy, close and regional, and intriguing,” Mendenhall said. “So in our own state it certainly makes sense. Where and how it goes from here we’ll certainly see.”
Liberty comes to Scott Stadium with an offense that averages 477.4 yards a game. In last weekend’s triple-overtime loss to UMass, the Flames put up 59 points and 488 yards of offense.
The Flames are led by quarterback Stephen Calvert, who set program single-season records last season with 3,363 passing yards and 29 TD passes, which tied the single-season mark in the Flames’ former conference, the Big South.
Calvert’s list of weapons in the passing game begins with 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior Antonio GandyGolden, who is closing in on a 1,000-yard season and was a recent addition to the Biletnikoff Award watch list. He leads the team with 51 catches for 844 yards and nine touchdowns.
“What stands out is production,”
Liberty quarterback Stephen Calvert has thrown for 2,528 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.