2019 Liberty vs New Mexico State | NCAA Football

Aggies Will Look To Put Out The Flames When Liberty Visits Las Cruces

Aggies Will Look To Put Out The Flames When Liberty Visits Las Cruces

If New Mexico State hopes to collect its first victory of 2019 when it welcomes Liberty to Las Cruces, the Aggies will need to cut down on turnovers.

Oct 4, 2019 by Roger Brown
HIGHLIGHTS: Fresno State vs NM State

What has to change if New Mexico State is going to collect its first victory of the season when it faces Liberty on Saturday at Aggie Memorial Stadium?

Who: Liberty (3-2) at New Mexico State (0-4) 

When: Saturday, Oct. 5, 8 p.m. ET

Where: Wildcat Stadium; Durham, N.H.

Watch: LIVE on FloFootball

For starters, the Aggies have to cut down on turnovers.

New Mexico State (0-5) has turned the ball over 14 times in its five games and enters Saturday’s contest minus-11 in turnover margin.

“I firmly believe if we turn the ball over once or less we can score on anybody -- and beat anybody,” New Mexico State coach Doug Martin said. “So that’s the issue with us. Are we going to do that?

“We’re moving the ball, but we’re not able to finish drives and get it in the end zone because of turnovers. It’s more about us just taking care of the football. It’s really a simple game. If we take care of the ball we’re gonna score points.”

New Mexico State has lost five fumbles and has committed at least three turnovers in four of its five games. The only time the Aggies didn’t lose the turnover battle was a 55-52 loss to Mexico when each team turned the ball over once.

After opening the season with losses against Washington State (58-7) and Alabama (62-7), New Mexico State has scored at least 30 points in each of its last three games. 

Liberty (3-2) enters Saturday’s game on a three-game winning streak. New Mexico State beat Liberty 49-41 in the first of two meetings last season. Liberty won the second game 28-21. The teams will also meet twice this season. The second game will be Nov. 30 at Liberty.

The Aggies and Flames are two of the six FBS independent teams. Army, BYU, Notre Dame and UMass are the other FBS programs not in an NCAA-affiliated conference.

The Flames intercepted two passes in last week’s 17-10 victory over New Mexico, and are ranked eighth in the country in passes intercepted this season (six).

“The only problem we’ve had offensively is the turnovers,” Martin said. “The one game that we only turned the ball over once we scored 52 points.

“We’ve moved the ball on everybody we’ve played this year, even Washington State and some on Alabama, but the turnovers keep negating all of the good things that we do. If we only turn the ball over once in a game we’re gonna score a lot of points and we’re going to have a chance to win any game that we do that in.”

One-Two Punch

Senior quarterback Stephen ‘Buckshot’ Calvert and 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver Antonio Gandy-Golden are the key players on a Liberty offense that’s averaging 25.6 points per game this season and 480.7 yards of offense during its current three-game winning streak. 

Calvert, who has thrown for at least 300 yards in each of Liberty’s three victories this year, is 242 yards shy of reaching the 10,000-yard passing milestone for his career, which would make him the third active FBS QB with 10,000 yards.

Gandy-Golden ranks second in the nation with 688 receiving yards this season and leads all active FBS receivers with 3,106 receiving yards. He’s 65 yards away from breaking the Liberty career record for receiving yards.

“The quarterback and wide receiver they have are NFL players,” Martin said. “The quarterback has a big-time arm. We played against him last year. Exceptional player. Really good size. Makes really good decisions and he will be an NFL quarterback. And then the big, tall receiver that goes along with him. So those two guys are really hard to stop and that’s kind of the heart of their offense. They make a lot of plays.”

Freeze Count

Liberty coach Hugh Freeze, who had back surgery on Aug. 16, has coached the last three home games from a raised platform near the sideline and is expected to do the same for Saturday’s game. 

Because he has issues sitting for extended periods of time, Freeze will travel to New Mexico State on a private plane instead of traveling with the team. He also took a private flight to the team’s road game at Louisiana-Lafayette.