Liberty is now 3-1 on the season with each of their first four contests being decided in the final minutes and by a combined 19 points. The Flames got back int he win column on Saturday night at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia, defeating Akron, 21-12. This week, Liberty heads to Norfolk, Virginia to take on Old Dominion at 6 p.m. in a game that will be streamed on ESPN+. On Monday, Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze held his weekly press conference, here’s everything he had to say, including audio of his press conference:
“Thrilled that we got a win at home. We celebrate those, they are hard to come by. I say that all the time, but it’s true. I think it gets truer every year. Every team has got quality coaches and good athletes on their teams. If you have a week where you are not at full strength or your kids are not dealing with the mental side of the game particularly well, or you have a bad plan as coaches you can find yourself in a fist fight that can go either way, particularly if you turn it over like we’ve been prone to do some. I feel really, really excited that we are one-third through our season, in football terms, it’s the first quarter, to be sitting at 3-1, obviously, we would have liked to have been 4-0, but 3-1 is certainly not bad.”
“The effort from our defense continued to be phenomenal. Give Akron, Coach Moorhead, his staff, a lot of credit. They had a really, really good plan. It caused us problems. It’s good for us because we need to get some of that fixed. I’m sure we will see some of that again. They had a really good plan for us on both sides, really. They are quality coaches with good players. I think they are going to get better as the year moves on.”
“We are excited to find a way to win. I thought our offense’s positives were very few other than they started fast and we finished off a drive in the 4th quarter when we needed one to put the game away. Those are the few positives from the offensive side.”
“I thought our punting game was extremely well. We outkicked our coverage a couple times. Our gunners have got to make that play. They were unblocked and just missed tackles on it. Aidan punted it really well. I thought he was critical in the 4th quarter to win the field position battle and help us kind of go to our, whatever we’re calling, the thoroughbred package with Nate to just run the football. I thought that was critical.”
“Excited. 3-1, headed into, obviously another one of these games that I consider to be a 50-50 contest. It could go either way. I think this is one of the more complete teams we have played. They are really, really, really athletic on defense which has given us problems, O-Line wise. I think their transfer corners are really good and made them better from last year. It’s kind of the same front, for the most part. 42 is one of the better linebacker’s we’ve faced. He’s averaging double digits tackles a game. Really, really good football player. All the guys on that side are just really athletic and they’re deep. They rotate and kind of remind me of us a little bit up front.”
“It’s going to be a challenge for us offensively. Coach Rahne is, obviously, already got a Power Five win this year. Been in every game, at Virginia, came within a hair of having two Power Five wins. Playing at their place, which I hear is an exciting place to play at. They have great support there. So, it will be a great challenge.”
“Offensively, this quarterback, as he goes they go. Big, strong, throws a really good deep ball. Has very, very athletic tight ends and receivers. Tight end looks 6’9″ or something like a giant on there but he’s probably 6’7″, I guess or something. But that’s a matchup problem. So, we will have to have a good plan. Those receivers, 0, 1, and 18 are all as good as we’ve seen. The running back is the same. This quarterback is throwing the ball around and doing a lot of good things. Coach Rahne has got it going there. His staff does a good job. They will have a good plan. We will have to be on top of our game to go and come out of there with a win.”
WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT THE IMPACT KHALEB COLEMAN AND JAVIAN LOFTON HAD ON SATURDAY?
“Excited. Khaleb stayed around here, he’s been with us since I’ve been here. Truthfully, I think I’ve said it before, his personal story is one that I’m quite proud of for him, mostly, and then obviously I think it speaks to our culture. I know we’ve changed. He was a young man, he didn’t trust many people. He didn’t want to fit into a different culture. He didn’t want to have conversation. Now, he’s got his degree, he’s got wisdom. When you get a kid like that that gets to make a play for a touchdown, that’s exciting.”
“Same thing for Treon, scored, I don’t know if that’s his first touchdown or not, but it’s one of the few. Jaivian has worked really hard through a lot of injuries since he’s been here. To see him come on and give Demario a rest could be helpful as we get through this grind of a season.”
KHALEB ALSO WENT THROUGH SO MANY INJURIES.
“Oh gosh, knees and shoulders. He’s another one that’s gone through it. I think he’s had three surgeries since we’ve been here. To see him stick with it and battle through all of that and to be rewarded with some good play is quite satisfying.”
WHAT DOES HIS EXAMPLE SAY TO SOME YOUNGER PLAYERS?
“We had a long, lengthy, it’s really our Convo, on Monday mornings. I taught a long lesson this morning and then we had some honest dialogue about that. Some of the players like Khaleb and Demario and some others, had some great wisdom for some of these young guys. This is when the younger crew in today’s time start having these mental battles of why am I not playing. The if and woulda couldas and buts and not really seeing things as they process. That’s where I’m trying to keep them centered is on the process of what you’re becoming. No one is guaranteed anything other than the opportunity they have so don’t lose the opportunity and don’t not make the most of the opportunity because you’re battling mentally so with wanting something instantly. Most things that come instantly are probably not the greatest of things. It was a great meeting. People like Khaleb, who have been through it, or Demario who played very few snaps as a freshman and now is one of the best in the country, I think. It was good for us to share and them hearing not just from me but from other people like those guys.”
I KNOW YOU DON’T LIKE INJURY UPDATES.
“I’ll talk them on Mondays, I just don’t like talking them on Thursdays anymore. The first injury that is the most concerning is Barry, our trainer. He sustained a gruesome-looking…I saw the x-rays, I talked to the docs, I talked to his wife daily, yesterday and today already. I talked with Barry last night. I think he was still feeling pretty good on some meds, but this morning he was in pain. I think he’s supposed to get out today sometimes so he’s going to come by and get some crutches I think. He’s determined he will be at the game Saturday. He serves us very, very well here. I just hate that he’s going to go through this. I’m certain he will make it. We’re also glad that our university gives us the resources to have other people in place. Both Alex’s down there are quality and are certainly jumping in and picking up to help. Our prayers are going to be with Barry, but Dr. P thought the surgery went extremely well and expects him to make a full recovery. We’re thankful to hear that.”
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES WE SEE THREE QBS ON SATURDAY?
“I’m hopeful that we’re going to get Kaidon, Naasir, Bodden, I’m trying to think who else is out, the list has been long. Jolly had surgery so he won’t be back for 4-5 weeks, probably. Snead will be like the others, hopeful, but I feel pretty good about Kaidon and Naasir and Bodden after just today’s brief time that we worked out. So, I feel pretty good about those. I’m sure I’m forgetting somebody, but feel pretty good that we will get some of those back. We sure need them to come back and help us, particularly in the O-Line. We were better when we rotated people.”
HOW DID THE O-LINE GRADE OUT?
“Not great, probably our worse game for whatever reason and we’ve got to get it fixed.”
YOU ROTATED 7 I BELIEVE?
“I think so. I think it was 7 guys would like to have about 9. So, obviously if those two jump back in. I sent in all the penalties that they called on Cooper that put us behind the chains. I don’t understand what they’re calling. He is moving his foot. He’s just kind of readjusting his heel. I don’t see that as a quality foul but I will be anxious to see what the report says.”
AFTER WATCHING FILM, DID YOU THINK JB SHOULD HAVE HANDED OFF MORE IN THE RPO?
“I didn’t need to see the tape to know that one. I see when we’re supposed to hand it off when we should throw the RPO. We missed a few opportunities for sure. JB started fast. I think he was 10 of 15 or something for the first half. Obviously, two touchdown passes. It’s there, we’ve just got to get more consistency from him and get a good plan for him when his number is called.”
WHAT DID YOU SEE ON THE INTERCEPTION?
“Well, he didn’t need to move up in the pocket. That caused the pressure. If he just hangs in there, I think we had the guy was up the field. Our offensive tackle is in a good position on that one. He slid up and obviously the end could fall back in then. The hit, I think is what caused the poor throw. It was kind of a bang-bang deal. Just hang in there and make the throw or use your legs.”
DOES IT SEEM LIKE THE TEAM RALLIES AROUND HIM?
“Yeah. He’s one of the guys that was elected to our Culture Counsel. Look, everybody doesn’t always get the number of plays they want in sport. I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a team, and football’s not the only one, there’s basketball, there’s others, but everybody is not the starter. One of my points today in my teachings of the week, which is called facing your giants, is some of the giants we have in life, most of them start as babies. It starts with us either allowing it to slip in. One of the things we have to do as coaches, in particular today, have people like JB who does he want to play more, does he want to be the starter? Absolutely, he should be and I’d think less of him if he didn’t want to be. But what happens if you don’t get what you want? How do you handle that? I’m just proud, I think he’s listening. For him to say those things, the guy walked out as a captain the other night. He led us to a win that puts us one step closer to our goal. Good for him.”
DO YOU SEE HIM BEING ABLE TO COACH?
“JB, if he wants to coach, absolutely. JB would be an outstanding coach.”
WHAT’S YOUR MESSAGE TO THE OFFENSE?
“I’m honest with our offense. It’s been frustrating a bit. We’ve not been consistent and I take that very personally. We’ve got to find some consistency. Whoever is at quarterback, it doesn’t matter. I told them that all week. We can’t control who we have available to play. It’s the next man up. We and our system have got to find consistency with whoever is there. I’ve got to have better plans and then we’ve got to execute. Truthfully, I didn’t spend a lot of time with the offense other than just to say guys, here’s the facts, and I’m going to try to be more positive with you, but when you start seven possessions behind the chains because we do something to ourselves, it goes back to my old motto, most games are lost not won. We’re not quite good enough against athletic fronts to start on the 1st and 15s over and over and over again. Some of that is on us. Now, the game planning and stuff is not on them, that’s on me and our coaches. We’ve got to make sure we have a plan that works for the kids that we have available.”
HAS DAE DAE SURPRISED YOU?
“No, not at all. You saw it in the spring. Knew that he, reminds me of Jaylen Walton. Just knew he had some of the dynamic ability. Love his personality. Got to reign him in every now and then, but love his personality. He was an awesome voice in our meeting today. Of course, he says it like I wouldn’t say it or not many in our team room will say. I think his deal was guys listen, coach is right, we got down because we didn’t keep rolling after 14-0. I tell you, we’ve got to start getting jiggy with it. I said let’s do it, let’s do it Dae Dae. We’ve got to get jiggy with it every play.”
“I told him to define that and he said you know coach, we got to get the mojo. I like it.”
HOW DID CJ DANIELS KNEE HOLD UP?
“It was good. He’s ready to play more and in today’s time spent together I expect him to get some more snaps this week.”
HOW GOOD IS JENNINGS AT WR FOR THEM?
“Every bit as good as anyone we’ve faced, like Brownlee from Southern Miss and those kids from Wake. Everybody’s got good skill people. Everybody. It’s just too many people out there. Everybody doesn’t have a great O-Line, that’s the hardest position to find. It seems like everybody now has pretty good D-Linemen that can run and are strong and athletic, but skill is out there to be found and they’ve done a good job. They’ve got a really good receiving corp and the tight end makes them better. You better know where he is.”
HOW MUCH OF A CHALLENGE DOES THEIR PASSING GAME POSSESS?
“It’s a great challenge. They’re going to take their shots with him. That’s how they beat Virginia Tech. They really struggled moving the ball, run game wise, but they started just taking shots with him. He got PI’d or made a play.”
HOW DOES RAHIMI BEING OUT AFFECT YOU?
“Brylan will be part of the equation. Quentin is kind of our, we rotate him around. So, we haven’t gotten far enough, I haven’t even met with the defense yet other than just get the grades and talk preliminarily about Old Dominion. They will have a plan. We either start Q back there and Tread at nickel or Brylan if he has a good week, maybe, I’m not sure. Brylan will be part of the equation and Quentin will. Hopefully we bring Preston (Hodge) on this week and he’s able to play at one of those spots also.”
MOVING PRESTON FROM CORNER?
“Yeah, we are going to move Preston from corner to nickel.”
DO YOU KNOW THE RULE, IS IT 3 TARGETING AND YOU HAVE TO SIT A GAME?
“They have changed that and I need to go read up on that. I thought that one was questionable. It wasn’t very hard of a hit. I didn’t think it was quite helmet to helmet. I will be curious to see. We will get those back today and see.”
TJ GREEN HAS DRESSED, IS HE EAGER TO PLAY?
“He is eager. We just want it to be right for him healthwise. Hopefully this is the week.”
IS THERE AN UPDATE ON CHARLIE?
“Last week, we were down to about four weeks, I thought, that’s what I was told. Somewhere around four more probably, three-four.”
HOW DID THE D-ENDS GRADE OUT?
“10 and 11 for us, TreShaun and Durrell played really well. Khristian got hurt early in the game. That kind of hurt us on depth a little bit. Sings had to play a few snaps. But thought both TreShaun and Durrell played their guts out.”
KENDY PLAY WELL ALSO?
“Yeah, so did Jay Hardy probably had his best game.”
THE DEPTH YOU HAVE BUILT AT DL, HOW DO YOU FEEL IT HAS EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS?
“I keep saying it every week. I think that’s one of the strengths of our team. We’ve put an emphasis on building that through the three years we’ve been here. It’s proven to be beneficial to us.”