On Thursday, Liberty completed its sixth practice of training camp as the first week of practice in preparation for the 2022 football season has come to a close.

Less than a week ago, head coach Hugh Freeze said that he was not sure who would emerge as a leader in the four-person quarterback battle. His tune has changed a little bit following the first six practices of camp.

“If things continue as they are, we will probably make a decision and an announcement toward the end of camp,” Freeze said on Thursday. “My gut, I usually go with it, I kind of have a gut feeling and the stats that we looked at this morning kind of back it up.”

Liberty is scheduled for six more practices before training camp concludes next Saturday, August 20 with an open practice as part of the Flames Fan Appreciation Day festivities. By then, Freeze could name a starting quarterback. That’s quite different than what he has been saying throughout the spring and summer, but it sounds like someone is beginning to separate themselves.

“We grade decision making every single day on every play,” said Freeze. “Then, we grade execution on every single play. Then, I look at what appears to be in team setting some intangibles that you just have a knack to make some plays. We take all of that into consideration. You can’t ignore what is real. Decision making is real, execution is real. When those two grades measure up with what you feel or think you see on the field in team settings, ultimately that is probably where the decision will lie.”

Johnathan Bennett has been getting the heavier workload with the first team during the two practice sessions that have been open to the media. Charlie Brewer, Kaidon Salter, and Nate Hampton have been rotating pretty evenly during those open sessions with the other units.

“I think that, again, all four could function and we could probably do fairly well with all four,” said Freeze. “It wouldn’t shock me for any of the four to do good things. At the end of the day you have to make a decision and go with one who you think does the most good things. I think I’m fairly close to kind of knowing how that will look at the start. I wouldn’t be afraid, if we’re not doing well, to try someone else either.”

Following Flames Fan Appreciation Day, Liberty will take two days off from practice as classes begin on Monday, August 22. Then, the Flames will begin with their normal, in-season practice schedule heading into the season opener opener on Sept. 3 at Southern Miss. Those two weeks of practice following camp, Freeze wants to be able to give the top two quarterbacks the majority of the reps as game prep begins in earnest.

“I will say that all four have had some great days grading out in both execution and decision making, but again there will come a point where we’ve got to say over the course of this two weeks this is what is real on stats and this is what’s real for me as a coach to have a gut feeling,” stated Freeze. “I think we will arrive there hopefully middle to end of next week.”