Three quarterbacks on Liberty’s roster spent differing amounts of time under Joe Dailey’s tutelage, ranging from three seasons with starter Buckshot Calvert to one with Brandon Robinson, and each signal caller grasped the competitiveness and desire Dailey brought to team meetings, practices and from her perch in the coaches’ booth on Saturdays.
When Dailey landed a gig as New Mexico’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach nine months ago, the trio knew then exactly what they should expect this Saturday, when the Flames play host to the Lobos.
“We know throughout the week we’ve got to prepare hard because with his offense, they like to score a lot of points,” Calvert said, “so that just makes us have to score a lot more points.”
Dailey, who has quickly turned New Mexico into one of the more efficient offenses in the nation, is looking forward to returning to his old stomping grounds. He spent seven seasons on Turner Gill’s staff at Liberty, including the final three as the Flames’ offensive coordinator, and was part of the staff that helped transition the program from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
“I’m excited to come back,” Dailey said earlier this week in a phone interview. “We helped build that place. We did some really, really good things there, and I have nothing but fond memories of Liberty for a number of reasons.
“I grew as a man, as a father, as a husband, as a son and as a follower of Christ. I had seven successful years there, and usually when you leave Liberty, they tell you, ‘You better have grown and you better be ready to go out and serve the world in whatever gift you’re gifted with and do it to the maximum.’ Liberty is a place about whole person development, and I feel like I definitely got a lot of things achieved and definitely developed in a number of ways.”
Dailey was not retained on Hugh Freeze’s staff after Gill’s unexpected retirement from coaching less than 48 hours after the 2018 season finale.
The Flames were 34th in the nation in scoring offense (33.3 points per game) and 46th in total offense (422.9 yards per game) last season, both increases from the previous season at the FCS level.
“I thought he was very, very, very sharp. A professional, very intelligent, knows the game, has studied the game, I know he studied our stuff when I was at Ole Miss,” Freeze said. “Not that he had to, but I know he did. We talked about that, and he did well here, too.
“I’m impressed with what he’s doing, and what he’s doing has answers. I like watching teams and saying, well, they don’t have an answer if you do this. I really do, I like that. I can’t say that this week. They have answers.”
Dailey said he studied some of Freeze’s offensive plays during the 2014 and ’15 seasons when he was the passing game coordinator at Liberty. He incorporated some of those calls with others he has gleaned from various playbooks over the years to create an offensive set he said is generated to create downhill plays so the offense is never in unfavorable down-and-distances.
It is a major reason why the Flames were in a tie for 45th in third-down conversion percentage last season.
“I want to be in downhill plays. Plays that provide an answer versus any given defensive alignment,” Dailey said. “The system is really predicated off of being able to take advantage of matchups, of leverage, and then just brute grinding it out and running the football. We run the football here a good deal, and we equally throw it as well.”
Dailey said he is looking forward to interacting with many of the familiar faces on the Liberty roster and the coaching staff after the game.
Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.