As Liberty head coach A.J. Harman continues to evaluate his team in preseason workouts, he believes it's the best team he has led as head coach. But do the Mountaineers have what it takes to make the playoffs?
That’s the burning question on Harman's mind, as Liberty hopes to reach the postseason for the first time since 2010.
“For us to get back to the playoffs, it’s been a while, but we’ve got to have that senior leadership we had in 2010," said Harman. "Things have to click. We have to fight for every last inch and every turnover.”
Liberty returns 11 seniors, as well as nine starters on each side of the ball. To be a playoff team, Harman says those athletes must reconnect with the identity of Liberty football by becoming a tough, physical team that battles opponents each week.
“I know that in order for us to be successful, we’ve got to be tougher than people," Harman said. "We’ve got to be stronger mentally, physically and we have to be more physical on the field.”
Becoming physically stronger started in the offseason. Harman said the team carried momentum from a five-game winning streak into the weight room.
But that strong ending to 2015 is in the past.
“It definitely got the kids excited for this year to come in prepared, but now, that’s all last year," Harman said. "I hope these kids quit hearing about how good they turned around last year and reading those things, and focus on today and now; get better and focus on this season.”
Returning seniors say they’re accepting their coach’s challenge to make great strides before week one.
"I just feeling like this team, every practice we get better," said senior fullback D.J. McDonald. "If we don’t get better, it’s a loss of a practice. We’ve just got to keep moving forward, be better than the last time we performed.”
Added senior linebacker Logan Hosaflook: “I like how we come together as a team and how we work together as a team. I also like how we play together. We’re physical, and I feel like we feed off each other.”
The Mountaineers hit the road in week one to take on East Fairmont.