ROANOKE, Va. – For the first time in school history, Liberty University’s football program is ranked. Sitting at No. 25 in the AP Poll, they head straight into one of the toughest battles on their schedule at Virginia Tech.
“They’re bigger, faster, stronger and deeper,” Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze said. “When you see it in those terms as a coach, you know it will be an uphill climb.”
The battle between the two top ten rushing teams begins on Saturday. Tech is averaging 290 yards a game, Liberty just 35 yards less.
“Being able to run the ball is something we take pride in,” Liberty offensive lineman Thomas Sargeant said. “If we can’t run the ball, the offense is only one dimensional.”
“Their running backs are big and powerful, some are small and fast,” Virginia Tech Head Coach Justin Fuente said. “Wideouts, they are putting tons of points on the board, they’re incredibly explosive.”
Tech’s advantage coming off of last week is quarterback Hendon Hooker’s accuracy in the past game, setting up a nice challenge for Appomattox safety Javon Scruggs.
“This week, obviously, we have a mobile quarterback, we have to make sure we’re taking our pursuit angles from the front end to the back end,” Scruggs said. “Just making sure we have good eyes and not being lazy with our keys and reads and doing what our eyes tell us to do.”
But there’s no discounting the mobility similarity between Hooker and Liberty quarterback Malik Willis. So does preparation for quarterbacks like Willis become easier going up against Hooker every day?
“We spend all week with those guys so chasing after them is the same as getting reps in the game,” Hokies defensive lineman Justus Reed said. “So having that at our disposal every week definitely helps us prepare for people that can run and teams that can run the football.”
“I think those guys are really fundamental and pretty sound at what they do,” Liberty quarterback Malik Willis said. “We have to get that game plan together, focus in and work hard this weekend, try to be the best we can be and win the game.”
Kickoff is slated for noon at Lane Stadium and can be streamed on ACCN.