We are about 48 hours away from kickoff on Saturday evening when Liberty welcomes in-state foe Old Dominion to Williams Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN3. On Thursday, Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media to give his final update prior to kickoff. Here are the main takeaways from his media session.

After being disappointed with his team’s effort and attention to detail during practice last week leading up to the Troy game, Coach Freeze says his team has put in the work required to get better this week.

“Much better work, much better attention, much better intensity,” he said. “I hope that leads to better execution on Saturday evening. I was pleased even with the way they took my coaching this week. I was pleased. I think we can build upon practices like we had this week. I don’t know if it means you will win or lose, but I do know it will put you in a better position to win when you prepare the way we did this week.”

The Flames are still battling the injury bug, and Freeze says most of the guys’ status for this week is still uncertain.

“It’s still day to day with a lot of kids,” Freeze said. “We’ve been fortunate here our last two years not to have injury bug hit us very much, but we’re going through some of that now. It’s like I told them this morning in our Thursday character trait theme meeting, Dream Chasers always have adversity and we have some in that regard. How we respond will determine a lot about us as people and as a team. The injuries are what they are. The COVID world is what it is. We’ve got to play the next play.”

Some of the guys whose status is uncertain this week includes starting left guard Damian Bounds, starting right tackle Cooper McCaw, backup right tackle Jonathan Graham, starting defensive end Durrell Johnson, wide receiver Jaivian Lofton, defensive end Khristian Zachary, reserve offensive lineman Will Buchanan, and corner Marcus Haskins.

Liberty surrendered five sacks in last week’s win over Troy, with quarterback Malik Willis frequently looking to find room and a way to escape. Some of that was obviously due to being down several key pieces on the offensive line, something that could be another issue this week.

“We’ve had a good practice, but we definitely have improvement to do there technique wise,” Freeze said. “We will try to find ways to help them some with different ways. We’ve got to have some of those young guys play because of the status we are in right now. It’s our job to get them better. Some of it’s not always the OLine, our running backs have to protect better also. That’s our job to help them get better, hopefully you will see us better at it this Saturday.”

Like last week, the Flames are likely to have to turn to some offensive linemen who don’t have the playing experience that the starters and top reserves do. Freeze is hopeful in some of these young linemen, but still understands they are young and inexperienced.

“I think Harry (Hayes) is going to be a good player, he’s just a freshman,” he said. “I think Will (Buchanan) is going to be a good player, Chase Mitchell, but they’re young and they make a lot of mistakes particularly when you are facing this mixed front that you’re getting from ODU. They run that blended front. They are creating a lot of havoc. Young kids, even old kids, make mistakes on it. I think they are all going to be decent players. Hopefully they will prove to me and have a better understanding and execute better on Saturday evening when they are called upon. Adair is the same, expect him to play a lot.”

Liberty’s top outside wide receiver, Noah Frith, made his season debut last week at Troy after missing the season opener against Campbell with a hand injury. His snaps were limited against the Trojans, and he had only one target, drawing a pass interference penalty. As he continues to work back to full speed, expect to see Frith’s impact increase.

“We need production from our outside guys,” said Freeze. “Last week, I got really conservative, just tried to control the game and we did, just tried to control the clock. They had very few possessions, that’s probably why he didn’t get as many targets. I look for those to increase as we continue to build.”

Liberty will be challenged by the Old Dominion rushing attack in ways the team hasn’t seen yet this season. The Monarchs have rushed for 251.5 yards per game in their first two gamse this season while averaging over 5 yards per rush.

“This is a good football team,” Freeze said of ODU. “They are outrushing Wake Forest all the way through the first half. They’ve got guys that can make plays and the quarterback is a dynamic runner.”

“Every week is a test,” he continued. “You’ve got to answer the bell every single week, improve yourself on that given day. Every scheme is a little different. Every coaching staff is a little different. Some nights the offense has your number and you feel like you are playing a call behind each time. You’ve got to go prove yourself. Every week is a test and this is no different.”