Liberty preparing for ‘lots of unknowns’ in home opener with FIU

The Panthers will come to Lynchburg with lots of transfers from Power 5 schools.

Liberty's offensive line gained more confidence after guiding the team to 354 rushing yards (Liberty Athletics)

LYNCHBURG, Va. – After performing like a well-oiled machine in the Bluegrass State, the Flames are looking to make some tune-ups for their matchup with Florida International University.

“FIU has better athletes, probably, across the board than we have so there’s no way you should overlook it,” said head coach Hugh Freeze.

“We definitely have to keep our foot on the gas. We can’t take a lull as Coach Freeze said,” Flames Center Thomas Sargeant said.

The offense looked dynamic with a new spark plug in quarterback Malik Willis, who rushed for 168 yards in his debut, adding fuel to the offensive line’s motivation.

“It’s a huge confidence boost especially when you can get over 300 yards. That’s a big deal for rushing. In the past that hasn’t always been the deal but now that we can do it...we have a really solid group so it’s pretty much awesome that we can do that,” said Sargeant.

“I think it showed us how good we could be and I think it’s something put forth every week and put that on the field. We have what it takes,” said Flames offensive lineman Brendan Schlittler

While no major repairs are happening for the Flames, on the other side coach Butch Davis has done an engine overhaul of the Panthers program. The highly touted coach has gained 23 wins in just three seasons behind veteran leadership on offense. While many of the talented wide receivers graduated last season, they’ll still lineup with a two-back tandem and multiple transfers from Power 5 schools-- which leaves Liberty wondering what to expect in the Panthers season opener.

“It is challenging with the amount of unknowns that are in front of us,” said Flames linebacker Aaron Pierre.

“Once we come out Saturday, we can go ahead and make changes or stick with what we have.”

Kickoff is set for 1pm Saturday from Williams Stadium in Lynchburg.

About the Author:

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.