Unbeaten Liberty, visiting Bulldogs have vastly different objectives

TECH TIGER: Benton product Keldrick Moody is part of the Louisiana Tech running game that is counted on to keep the Liberty offense off the field today. (Photo courtesy Louisiana Tech Athletics)

By MALCOLM BUTLER, Lincoln Parish Journal 

LYNCHBURG, Va. — Louisiana Tech and Liberty both have plenty to play for today when the Bulldogs travel to Williams Stadium to face the Flames at 5 p.m. CT. 

Tech (3-6, 2-3) knows it must win its remaining three games to become bowl eligible. Liberty (8-0, 6-0) knows that two more league wins means a regular season Conference USA title. 

The contest can be heard on the LA Tech Sports Network as Malcolm Butler (PxP) and Teddy Allen (analyst) provide a call of the game. 

Tech head coach Sonny Cumbie simplified his goal for the Bulldogs during his weekly press conference. 

“We just want to play our best,” said Cumbie. “That has been the message this week is just being at our best. We have not done that as a football team in all four sides in terms of offense defense special teams and sideline for four quarters of football. 

“That is the challenge that we are chasing our best football. We have had progression as a football team and on defense and offense and special teams. Rising on all four sides of the football. We are chasing our best.” 

However, Cumbie was also quick to add that the goal of a bowl game is still very much part of the focus entering the final stretch of the season. 

“It is important and making the postseason is one of the goals that we have,” said Cumbie. “We have numerous seniors on our football team that have been a part of a lot of success whether they started here or transferred here. We want to try to continue to climb our way back up to where we are in bowl contention every season. 

“When we are playing meaningful football games and this is a meaningful football game for us. The sense of urgency and excitement for the opportunity and challenge of playing Liberty and the type of opponent that we have on the road.” 

The Bulldogs fell to New Mexico State 27-24 their last time out on Oct. 24 in a game that featured another comeback bid fall short in the games closing minutes. Tech started out with a 13-point lead in the first half before the Aggies stormed back with 21 unanswered to take the lead for good. 

The Flames are undefeated this season with a perfect 8-0 record while posting a 6-0 mark against CUSA opponents. Liberty has one of the nation’s top offenses, ranking in the top-15 nationally in numerous categories including: rushing offense: (2nd, 280.6), total offense (8th, 488.4), scoring offense (14th, 37.0). 

“Their quarterback. Kaiden Salter, does a nice job of extending plays and in the quarterback run game,” said Cumbie. “It will be a big challenge for us. The number one thing defensively is being able to contain the run game. They are able to create explosive plays in the passing game with their play-action and throwing the football down the field.” 

Salter is the leader of the Flames’ offense. The Cedar Hill, Texas native has completed 98 of 167 passes for 1,662 yards this season and 19 touchdowns and three interceptions. On the ground, he has rushed 98 times for 614 yards and seven touchdowns. Salter is averaging a conference-leading 6.27 yards a carry. He is responsible for 19.5 points a game which leads all CUSA players and ranks fourth nationally.