LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Syracuse Orange came to the Hill City and left the Flames a sour 24-0 loss in 2019′s season opener. A game that the players remember very vividly.
“I know we had plenty of opportunities especially down in the red zone to score and we didn’t get it done. So I left that game feeling down,” said Flames running back Peytton Pickett.
That was then...this is now.
“I actually think they’re better,” said Syracuse head coach Dino Babers.
“I think we’re further along in year two than I thought we’d be,” said Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze.
Liberty enters at 4-0 with a staunch defense but an offense that’s seeking consistency in the passing game. Injuries have plagued the receiving core and after injuring his elbow a few weeks ago, quarterback Malik Willis is looking to build on muscle memory after having more reps and a full game in a brace.
“He missed 6-7 practices and hopefully Kent (Austin) and him can get his mechanics back right,” Freeze said.
“I think Saturday really helped with that. I practiced with it for a few days and wore it in the game Saturday and now I feel like it’s really growing more comfortable,” said quarterback Malik Willis.
Syracuse is feeling rather uncomfortable. Starting quarterback Tommy DeVito is out with a lower leg injury. Top defensive back Andre Cisco’s season ended due to injury and he has since opted out to focus on the NFL Draft. And to add to it, there could be over a dozen other starters or reserves not available.
“The whole thing is not to quit, not to give up, keep your knees bent, be ready to adjust and improvise heartbreak ridge and when the smoke clears still be standing,” said Orange head coach Dino Babers.
The Flames hope to be the ones standing on Saturday and in the process, gain their first ever win over an ACC team. Kickoff is at Noon from The Carrier Dome in Syracuse.