Over 20,000 words, nearly 50 pages, six contributors, and countless hours has gone into providing this exclusive go to tool to preview the 2021 Liberty football season! This 2021 Liberty football preview magazine combines all of the best coverage of Flames Athletics you have come to know from ASOR. It will be full of exclusive stories including a 2020 season recap, predictions, previews, schedule breakdown, roster breakdown, keys to the season, feature stories, exclusive interviews, and so much more!
Want to know our projected 2021 depth chart? How about schedule predictions from four different ASOR writers? Features include stories on Malik Willis, Javon Scruggs, and how the Flames will handle increased expectations this season.
Still on the fence? Here’s a sneak peak with access to one of our dozens of stories included in the magazine.
INCREASED EXPECTATIONS AWAIT LIBERTY IN 2021
Coming off the most successful season in school history, expectations have risen significantly around the Liberty football program. After winning 10 games, two against Power Five programs, beating an unbeaten and ranked Coastal Carolina in the Cure Bowl, and spending much of the last half of the season ranked in the top 25 will do that.
However, as an FBS Independent, it becomes difficult comparing the team’s success from year to year as the schedules change so much each season. Most teams have 8-9 games set from year to year from a conference schedule, and the primary goal would be to compete for a conference championship. That’s not the case for Liberty. Some seasons Liberty could play multiple top 25 teams or several strong Power Five opponents, and the next it may be just the opposite.
“When you’re not in a normal, every year schedule with a conference with a few out of conference teams, you’re playing basically a new schedule every year,” Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze said. “Which there is some excitement to that and some positive to that also, but 8 wins on a given year versus a certain schedule could really be equal to 10 or 11 wins against another year’s schedule. I’m very careful not to put quantitative values on what success looks like for a given season.”
This season many may be expecting another double digit win totals and perhaps even winning 11 or 12 games, but there are several games that will be against challenging teams, especially against Group of Five teams. Games against Ole Miss and Syracuse certainly won’t be easy. Additionally, playing Troy, Alabama-Birmingham, and North Texas, all on the road will be difficult. Throw in Old Dominion, Louisiana, and Army, at home, and the 2021 schedule could be more difficult than the 2020 campaign despite the three Power Five opponents.
Last season, five of Liberty’s 11 games were decided by six points or fewer. The Flames were 5-1 in those games with wins over Western Kentucky (6 points), Florida International (2 points), Virginia Tech (3 points), and Coastal Carolina (3 points in overtime) while falling at NC State by just one point. Those games could have all gone much differently, and instead of finishing the year at 10-1 and ranked in the top 25, the Flames could have won only 7 or 8 games.
Of course, the team did get much better as the season progressed, and a couple of those games earlier in the season might lean more heavily in Liberty’s favor if the game was played in November or December. Also, as we have discussed, the Flames will have one of the most experienced teams in the country in 2021 with 10 starters returning on each side of the ball in addition to all of the specialists.
“I said it before, I’ll say it again, I believe a reasonable expectation for our program is for us to be competing week in, week out with whoever is on our schedule and for us to end up hopefully going to bowl games most every year,” said Freeze. “To me, that is really where we should just keep our focus and that’s being ultra competitive, no matter who is on the schedule, that doesn’t mean you win them all, and ultimately being able to represent our university on a national stage in a bowl game.”