Liberty dropped its first game of the season to fall to 3-1, following the team’s 24-21 loss at Syracuse on a 34-yard field goal by Andre Szmyt. Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media following the win. Here’s everything he said:
“It hurts. It stings. Our kids fought for 60 minutes. That’s a good football team. Congratulations to Dino, I know it meant a lot to him to win this one, but man it just stings. We didn’t play our best. The noise rattled us in the first half. It was a lot louder than I thought it would be. Missed a chip shot field goal. I decided to go for it there at the end, thought we could punch it in. I’ll second guess all of that because certainly it didn’t go our way tonight. Way too many penalties. We struggled to stop the run, but we settled in nicely in the second half defensively. I thought offensively we did some good things in the second half, but just hurt for our kids. It’s part of life. It’s part of sports. It’s part of team. We will find out how we rebound, feels like it’s been a while.”
HOW DO YOU TRY TO REBOUND?
“Thank God, we need a weekend off. At some point, playing all late games and travelling, it catches up to you with what we go through on a given week. Luckily, today is Friday or whatever time it is, Saturday morning, we need a day off to rest for sure. They will have Saturday and most of Sunday off too, and we will get back to a normal week on Monday morning.”
WHAT WAS YOUR DECISION TO GO FOR IT ON 4TH DOWN?
“Analytics said go, for sure. We’ve been iffy on our short field goals for sure. Analytics said go. Obviously, I would like to have the call over again, when it doesn’t work. I felt like we would get it in our best player’s hands. They probably knew that too. We ran speed option to the boundary. They strung it out pretty good and Malik turned it up pretty quick. I will have to see the film and see if that was the right decision. I hurt for him because no one takes it harder than he does when you lose a game like this. It is disappointing, it is sickening. A lot to learn from it. We will go back and go to work.”
OLINE LOOKED OVERWHELMED MOST OF THE FIRST HALF, WHAT ADJUSTMENTS DID YOU MAKE?
“Stayed out of 3rd and longs really. Seemed like the whole first half we started on like the 5 yard line or the 10 yard line every time we had it. Special teams, we had a penalty on us. We were behind the chains a lot. Some of it was us, some of it was penalties. They certainly were bringing pressure, and we started the second half we were able to run the football. That kept us in some 3rd and manageables which certainly helped our protection also. We threw on some early downs too.”
DID YOU THINK SYRACUSE IS MUCH MORE IMPROVED FROM LAST YEAR?
“Yeah, there’s no doubt. They’ve got one of the top defenses in the country. The stats show that. I think they are ranked 4th in total defense. That defensive front is very athletic. They are very well coached on the back end. That front seven is just playing at a very high level for them. Offensively, I think they are kinda finding who their identity is. Tucker is a really good running back and the OLine blocked extremely well. Defensively, they are going to be in most games.”
SHRADER WITH HIM GETTING THE START, DID YOU GUYS HAVE TO MAKE ADJUSTMENTS?
“I don’t think they really hurt us with the option game. They hurt us with some quarterback runs when he pulled it, but we knew they could do that with him. They hurt us with some screen game in the first half that we adjusted in the second half and kinda fixed that. There was nothing that we weren’t really ready for that we showed.”
HOW MUCH DID BARBIR’S MISSED FG IMPACT THE GAME AND YOUR CALLS LATE?
“It factors in for sure, in your mind, when you are thinking about putting the ball in Malik Willis’ hands and if they stop us they are going to have it at the 2 yard line. Our defense was playing well the second half. Ultimately, got a stop and we got it back which is what we had hoped for. Unfortunately, we had our first turnover of the year and I don’t think they turned it over any. It factors in. We’ve got to give him shots when we have them, but it would have been nice to have points right there at the first, for sure.”
HOW DID SHRADER GETTING THE START IMPACT THE PREPARATION?
“We prepared for both. We’ve seen both play. We weren’t sure who was going to start, but it didn’t really affect our preparation. What they hurt us with in the first half is the tailback running the wide zone and their offensive line doing a great job on that and us getting out of our gaps. You’ve got to give them credit for that. That had nothing to do with who they started at quarterback. I don’t think that really played a role in it.”
WHAT WAS THE DEFENSIVE ADJUSTMENT THAT TURNED THE CORNER IN THE 2ND HALF?
“I don’t really want to go into the adjustments we made, but Scott and them did a nice job of adjusting, for sure.”
TACKLING LOOKS LIKE IT GOT BETTER AS THE GAME WENT ON.
“Yeah, obviously tackling better always helps.”