Monday huddle: An awkward reunion and showcase of future NFL picks -- Liberty vs. Ole Miss will be must-see TV
Liberty at Ole Miss might not be the biggest game in college football this weekend, but you’d be hard-pressed to find another with juicer storylines than when they meet for a noon kickoff on Saturday.
Liberty preps for Coastal Carolina in Cure Bowl matchup
Liberty finished the regular season with a 9-1 record and is currently ranked No. 23 in the final regular season Associated Press and Amway Coaches national top-25 polls. Coastal Carolina replaced Liberty with undefeated BYU and handed the Cougars their first defeat. So there’s just a lot of excitement and energy and positive vibes that is around this building right here that we’re going to take with us down to Orlando,” Liberty safety Javon Scruggs says. The Cure Bowl is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night from Camping World Stadium in Orlando.
Liberty recruiting is flourishing under Coach Hugh Freeze
Freeze’s third signing class at Liberty includes 12 three-star ranked recruits as ranked by 247Sports.com and six three-star recruits as ranked by Rivals.com. The 18-player class includes the highest ranked recruit in program history as ranked by ESPN.com. Defensive lineman Khristian Zachary is a four-star recruit ranked by ESPN.com and is the first-ever Liberty recruit to be included into the ESPN Top 300 recruiting player list. Vincent Pallotti HSWill graduate in May from St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, Md. … saw playing time in 13 career games at Pearl River, finishing with 23 receptions for 370 yards and three touchdowns … graduate of Philadelphia High School in Philadelphia, Miss.
Flames add 18 to roster during early signing period
Freeze’s third signing class at Liberty includes 12 three-star ranked recruits as ranked by 247Sports.com and six three-star recruits as ranked by Rivals.com. The 18-player class includes the highest ranked recruit in program history as ranked by ESPN.com. Defensive lineman Khristian Zachary is a four-star recruit ranked by ESPN.com and is the first-ever Liberty recruit to be included into the ESPN Top 300 recruiting player list. 2021 Flames Football NLI SigneesAndrew Adair * OL 6-4 310 Warrenton, Va./Kettle Run HSKylen Austin * WR 6-1 175 Baltimore, Md./St. Vincent Pallotti HSWill graduate in May from St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, Md.
Liberty athletic department, Flame Nation react to COVID-19 canceling ESPN College GameDay showdown
14 Coastal Carolina Saturday. Athletic Director Ian McCaw told reporters they received test results on Wedmesday and alerted Coastal Carolina and ESPN of the positive cases. [Liberty, Coastal Carolina football game canceled due to Flames’ coronavirus cases]He said he’s disappointed for student-athletes and coaches but supports the medical team’s decision. McCaw expects to bring the team back sometime next week, hoping they can prepare for a bowl game. As for Flames nation, one Liberty student told 10 News she was looking forward to watching the team play on ESPN College GameDay.
Liberty, Coastal Carolina football game canceled due to Flames’ coronavirus cases
Liberty on canceled football game Hear from Liberty Football Head Coach Hugh Freeze after the team was forced to cancel Saturday's game against Coastal Carolina. Posted by WSLS 10 / WSLS.com on Thursday, December 3, 2020The university announced Thursday that the Flames’ game against No. ESPN is reporting that Coastal Carolina will now host BYU in a battle of two unbeaten teams. There are some COVID-19 concerns within the Liberty Flames football program, according to a university athletic department official. Liberty, which is scheduled to conclude its regular season in Conway, South Carolina, against Coastal Carolina, has been in communication with its opponent.
Freeze focused on Liberty despite rumors
Lynchburg, VA. – Liberty is out to the best start in program history with a former power-5 coach at the helm. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Hugh Freeze would immediately be on every speculative “short list” literally minutes after the South Carolina job became available. This isn’t new for the former Ole Miss coach. Freeze continues to lead Liberty to program firsts, like bowl bid, bowl victory, power five victory, and now, three consecutive weeks in the AP Poll. Will Muschamp was fired Sunday midway through his 5th season in Columbia, after the gamecocks lost to Ole Miss 59-42 on Saturday.
No. 22 Flames Race Past Western Carolina, 58-14
LYNCHBURG, Va. – The 22nd-ranked Liberty Flames rolled up a season-high 633 yards of total offense on the way to a 58-14 victory over Western Carolina on Saturday at Williams Stadium. Liberty’s Malik Willis passed for 306 yards on 14-of-19 attempts with three touchdowns passes, while adding a team-high 97 yards rushing and two rushing touchdowns. Liberty outgained WCU 633-282 for the game, while the Flames totaled a season-high 379 yards passing and 254 yards rushing. Liberty scored on big plays, with six out of the Flames' touchdowns were scored from 34 or more yards out. Liberty scored 13 points off of WCU’s three turnovers, while the Catamounts scored seven points off of the Flames' two turnovers.
Liberty aiming to “remain humble” ahead of Western Carolina matchup
LYNCHBURG, Va. – “If you don’t humble yourself you will be humbled so, we’re taking that approach,” said Flames Safety, Ben Alexander. Despite riding high on “Cloud 9” at 7-0 with two ACC victories, they aim to remain true to themselves. “You talk about 2020 being strange, we’re playing our 8th football game and facing an opponent that hasn’t had a game. Now, that’s strange and uncomfortable and not quite sure what to prepare for,” said head coach Hugh Freeze. Lining up in hopes of not letting up when they kickoff at Noon Saturday--as they aim to win their 10th consecutive home game.
Liberty extends head football coach’s contract through 2026
LYNCHBURG, Va. – Looks like Liberty University’s head football coach is going to stay with the Flames for six more years. Liberty announced Wednesday that it has extended its contract with Hugh Freeze, the head football coach, through the 2026 season. “We are proud of Coach Freeze and the football program,” said Jerry Prevo, Liberty University President. Falwell’s vision was for Liberty to compete at the highest level of college football and Coach Freeze is making great strides towards realizing the vision.”Prevo said that this contract extension demonstrates his commitment and support of Freeze and the football program. “Coach Freeze is a wonderful blessing to Liberty and we are grateful for his outstanding leadership of our football program and mentorship of our football student-athletes,” said Director of Athletics Ian McCaw.
Barbir's FG gives No. 25 Liberty 38-35 win over Hokies
25 Liberty to a 38-35 victory over Virginia Tech. But officials ruled that Virginia Tech had called a timeout before the kick. “I’ve always done this,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. Hendon Hooker paced Virginia Tech, throwing for 217 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 156 yards and a touchdown. Virginia Tech: The Hokies play Miami at home on Saturday.
No. 25 Liberty Flames heading to Blacksburg Saturday to take on Virginia Tech
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. 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.
AP Top 25: No. 2 Alabama closes gap with Clemson; Liberty in
2 Alabama heading into a huge ACC matchup at fourth-ranked Notre Dame this week. The rest of the top five remained the same, with Ohio State at No. 1 on their ballots had Clemson third behind Ohio State. Penn State had the fourth-longest active streak behind Alabama (205), Ohio State (138) and Clemson (94). 4 Notre Dame: Another “biggest game of the year” — until the next one.
7 for 7: Willis’ record-setting day sparks Liberty’s victory over Southern Miss
The win had special meaning to Liberty Head Coach Hugh Freeze, a 1992 Southern Miss graduate. Willis added 97 rushing yards on 12 carries, and his rushing touchdown gave him seven total touchdowns. Southern Miss quarterback Tate Whatley (52 yards rushing, 188 yards passing) rushed for a Williams Stadium record-tying four touchdowns and added a passing touchdown. After Liberty held each of its previous three opponents to below 100 rushing yards, the Golden Eagles totaled 215 rushing yards. Southern Miss scored with less than a minute left to set the final score.
Freeze welcomes alma mater as Liberty preps for Southern Miss
“I want to beat Southern Miss. I have fond memories of being at Southern Miss, meeting my wife there and so many dear friends there that I met but … you want to win,” Freeze said. Southern Miss hasn’t played since Oct. 3, having had two games postponed due to COVID issues. And just Tuesday, Southern Miss announced that interim head coach Scotty Walden tested positive for the virus. And we have a game with Southern Miss on Saturday, we don’t entertain the possibility it could be canceled.
Liberty knocks off Syracuse 38-21 for 1st win over ACC opponent
Liberty earned its first-ever win over an ACC opponent, rolling to a 38-21 victory at Syracuse, Saturday at the Carrier Dome. 22 Syracuse, Liberty registered 338 yards on the ground in today’s historic win. Liberty came into the game ranking seventh in the nation in rushing yards per game (250.8), while Syracuse allowed 237.5 rushing yards per contest. With the victory, Liberty improves to 5-0 for the first time since opening the 2008 season with six straight wins. The Flames pushed their winning streak to seven games, their longest since a program-record 11-game winning streak spanning Oct. 20, 2007 through Oct. 11, 2008.
Flames striving for offensive consistency against Syracuse
LYNCHBURG, Va. – The Syracuse Orange came to the Hill City and left the Flames a sour 24-0 loss in 2019′s season opener. “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. The Flames hope to be the ones standing on Saturday and in the process, gain their first ever win over an ACC team.
Liberty aiming to not only win but “Pass the Test” on Saturday
LYNCHBURG, Va. – While the Flames imprved to 3-0 last week with a win over North Alabama, Coach Hugh Freeze was honest with his team in his evaluation. “I told them I thought we did not pass the test Saturday. We got the win which was good but didn’t pass the test,” Freeze said. They trust us, we trust them,” said Flames running back Peytton Pickett. That’s pretty much going to be the standard for the game,” said Flames defensive end Jayod Sanders.
Flames defense looking to rise to the occasion against North Alabama
While the Flames defense has dialed up 6 sacks and eleven tackles for loss this season, there have been some dropped calls, that is, explosive plays and missed tackles. We’ve played good defense at times and we can see we’ve got a chance to be really good,” said Liberty defensive coordinator Scott Symons. “A bit of a challenge since they haven’t played and they have a few transfers. “They’re not overly fast but good football players. Just solid football players,” said Flames linebacker Anthony Butler.
Liberty preparing for ‘lots of unknowns’ in home opener with FIU
“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 can’t take a lull as Coach Freeze said,” Flames Center Thomas Sargeant said. 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.
Liberty Flames win season opener 30-24 over Western Kentucky
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Liberty Flames defeated the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers 30-24 in their 2020 season opener. For the first time in nearly 4 years Liberty had a different starting quarterback after Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert graduated a season ago. Western Kentucky made another late comeback attempt when Pigrome threw his third touchdown pass, for 36 yards, with 3:04 remaining in the game. While the Flames defense didn’t record any sacks, it did create havoc in the backfield with 16 tackles for loss. Liberty will now return home to prepare for a 1 p.m. kickoff against Florida International University at Williams Stadium next Saturday.
Flames ready to open the season with Western Kentucky on Saturday
LYNCHBURG, Va. – For nearly the past four years, more than 1,400 days, 43 games to be exact, only one man was under center for the Liberty Flames-- Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert. With the record setting passer now graduated, the Flames turn to Malik Willis to be the starting quarterback in the season opener. “I appreciate the faith they placed in me and I just want to go out there and do what they tell me to do and the right way, you know,” Willis said. As they prepare to open the season with Western Kentucky, the Flames will face a defense that ranked 4th in passing in Conference USA last season and returns with the conference’s reigning defensive player of the year De’Angelo Malone at defensive end. The Hilltoppers offense is a work in progress with grad transfer Tyrrell Pigrome at quarterback but experience is on the side of Western Kentucky.
Liberty to make QB decision this week
Lynchburg, Va. As the season opener approaches for the Liberty Flames, the coaching staff is preparing for the tough decision of naming a starting quarterback. Head coach Hugh Freeze says a decision can be expected later this week between the Auburn transfer Malik Willis and the Maine transfer Chris Ferguson. Both have displayed obvious strengths and weaknesses, and while Freeze says the team is blessed with good options---consistency is the key. So its gone back and forth, its healthy, theyre both good leaders, they both care, they both want to do well," Freeze said. The Flames open the season at Western Kentucky on Saturday September 19.
Adjustments, teaching moments for Liberty, UVA, Virginia Tech as week one of fall camp ends
Last year, Hugh Freezes offense was a well-oiled machine with Stephen Buckshot Calvert at quarterback and Antonio Gandy-Golden at wide receiver. We have a lot of film to watch tomorrow.The Virginia Tech Hokies were on day four of fall camp on Friday. Its very difficult to control a one-on-one pass route with a wide receiver and a DB, he said. You do have to take up a little more room.Over in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers are done with week one of fall camp. Grad transfer wide receiver Rashaun Henry has been adjusting well to the Virginia offense, and has looked to senior Terrell Jana for leadership.
ACC schools express concerns over Libertys COVID-19 testing protocols
Despite having loss multiple teams on its schedule due to COVID-19, they were able to keep all 3 ACC opponents in tack- Virginia Tech, Syracuse and North Carolina State. But recent comments from Liberty Head Coach Hugh Freeze, has raised eyebrows and caused concern from a Syracuse and N.C. State. Liberty Responds to Questions about COVID-19 Testing pic.twitter.com/Xiqf5ZTVBD Liberty Flames (@libertyflames) August 15, 2020Liberty University is following CDC, Commonwealth of Virginia, local health district and campus guidelines and protocols. Liberty is contracting with Radeas Labs, located in Wake Forest, N.C., for its in-season testing program. In addition, Liberty conducts daily screening of on campus student-athletes.The Flames are scheduled to play at Syracuse on Oct. 17, at Virginia Tech on Nov. 7 and at N.C. State on Nov. 21.
UVA opens fall practice, Liberty forges ahead in midst of uncertain future
UVA opened fall football practice with another set of testing results in tow. The defending Coastal Division champion Cavaliers stepped through Monday mornings workout with a backdrop of uncertainly swirling around college football. In the wake of the swirling rumors, college football players have started the #wewanttoplay movement. Putting forth a complete list of protocols to make the games happen, including the right to opt out having eligibility guaranteed, and creating a College Football Players Association. Im totally supportive of the fact of our players that want to play, Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze said.
Liberty's Gandy-Golden lights up Buffalo in 35-17 win
LYNCHBURG, Va. - LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - Antonio Gandy-Golden caught two of Stephen Calvert's four touchdown passes, and Liberty coach Hugh Freeze collected his first win with the Flames in a 35-17 victory over Buffalo on Saturday night. Calvert was 23 of 30 for 325 yards passing, and Gandy-Golden finished with eight receptions for 174 yards that included many spectacular catches. Gandy-Golden made an over-the-shoulder, two-handed catch then jumped over his defender at the goal line for a 36-yard score in the second quarter. On the Flames' next series, he beat safety Tyrone Hill to the ball for a 30-yard catch, setting up Frankie Hickson's 1-yard touchdown run one play later. Matt Myers was 15-of-33 passing for 167 yards and threw a pair of touchdown passes for Buffalo (1-2).
Hugh Freeze says he was in no pain coaching from hospital bed in Liberty box Saturday
Leading up to the game, a lot of questions surrounded around head coach Hugh Freeze, who recently underwent back surgery, and whether he would be coaching from the box or the field. On Saturday, Freeze ended up coaching from a hospital bed in the Liberty box. At the end of the game, Freeze told the media his back felt good and that he was thankful for whoever's idea it was to have him coach from the hospital bed. He's a great coach," quarterback Stephen Calvert said. "For him to be able to call the plays up there in the hospital bed, I've got nothing but respect for him."
No. 22 Syracuse, back issues ruin Freeze's debut, 24-0
22 Syracuse outlasted his mistake-prone Flames, 24-0. An interception by Andre Cisco set Syracuse up at the Flames' 37 and Howard capped a five-play drive with a 1-yard run. He had five catches for 115 yards by halftime, including a 56-yarder he took to the Orange five. Gandy-Golden finished with six catches for 119 yards, exactly half of the 238 yards the Flames managed through the air. Liberty: The Flames go on the road for the first time, playing at Louisiana.
Freeze's health remains an issue, Willis's appeal denied
LYNCHBURG, Va. - The status of Liberty coach Hugh Freeze for his team's matchup with #22 Syracuse remains in question as the game approaches. Freeze is battling a back issue which required surgery, and he also is still recovering from a staph infection suffered during the process. Other news surrounding the game includes the NCAA denial yesterday of Liberty transfer quarterback Malik Willis's appeal for immediate eligibility. Willis must now must sit out the upcoming season as a redshirt before having two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning in 2020. Senior quarterback Buckshot Calvert will start Saturday night's opener at Williams Stadium against the Orange.
Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze released from hospital
LYNCHBURG, Va. - (Courtesy of Liberty Athletics)Every member of Liberty's football team is asked to live out the program's motto for 2019, #TougherTogether, and Head Football Coach Hugh Freeze is leading by example. Freeze was released from the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday afternoon. Additionally, the football staff is to holding several of its daily staff meetings at the hotel until he returns to the office, keeping their head coach up to date on the team's progress as they prepare for their season-opener in eight days. Conditions for Freeze worsened throughout the week and he underwent back surgery on Friday, Aug. 16. Freeze addressed his football team about the recovery process during a team meeting on Sunday, Aug. 18 via a live video feed from his hospital bed.
Liberty football begins new era under Hugh Freeze
LYNCHBURG, Va. - A new era has officially begun in the Hill City for the Liberty Flames football program, as they open camp under new head coach Hugh Freeze. That includes what kind of offense Hugh Freeze is trying to command? How are they going to attack ACC opponent Syracuse in their first game of the season? "Our offense needs to be one that's high scoring, protects the football, attacks the defense according to what the defense is giving us," said Liberty quarterbacks coach Kent Austin. And execute with composure," said head coach Hugh Freeze.
Syracuse and UVA looking forward to meeting with Liberty football
- Head coach of Syracuse, Dino Babers, says, "Our opening opponent is Liberty University. Coach Hugh Freeze does a fantastic job on offense. Syracuse will be opening their season at Liberty on August 31st. Bronco Mendenhall, head coach of the UVA Cavaliers said, "In terms of Hugh Freeze and his track record in terms of success, speaks for itself. His offensive ingenuity and I think that is certainly what Liberty wanted in terms of a football coach and that's who they got."
Busy signing day in Southwest Virginia
The second national signing day for the 2019 class in southwest Virginia meant a couple of key acquisitions for our Commonwealth colleges, and lots of local talent continuing their athletic and academic careers. Meanwhile at Virginia, the building process continues with head coach Bronco Mendenhall. Tackle Josmeer Blake and receiver/cornerback Aaron Moore both signed letters of intent to play for Glenville State College in West Virginia. Giving an example to the younger kids that one day being on that stage is possible," Weaver said. Other Eagles moving on include Quenton Elam to Virginia State and Marquis Carter to Ferrum.