A typical bowl week has the football team arriving to the bowl site a few days ahead of the game for a week full of activities. As 2020 would have it, that’s not the case this season as this year’s bowl game will be treated more like a typical road game. The Flames will travel to Orlando on Christmas Day and head back to Lynchburg following the game.

“Our kids know it’s a bowl game,” said Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze. “The facts of the matter of who we are in 2020 and what we have to do determines we can’t have the normal bowl experience. We can’t control that so we don’t worry about it. It’s an opportunity to go represent Liberty on a national stage on ESPN in a bowl game. We love the Cure Bowl. It’s been good to us, we’re 1-0 in, they treated us really well, and it’s a great case. We’re excited that we’re included in the bowl season and can finish off the 2020 season playing a great opponent like Coastal.”


Hugh Freeze was straight to the point when he highlighted his keys to the game Saturday night. “Turnovers and red zone opportunities,” he said. “Which team got it in the end zone and which team had to kick field goals.”

On the season, Liberty is scoring touchdowns on 62% of opportunities while the Chanticleers are converting 76% of their red zone trips into touchdowns. The Flames are +2 in turnover margin on the season while Coastal sports a +11 turnover margin.


It will be 30 days between football games for Liberty, the longest such layoff in program history and one of the longest for teams playing in a bowl game this year. The Flames also have to deal with several players, including quarterback Malik Willis, missing extended time as they were in quarantine from positive COVID tests and the subsequent contract tracing.

“That’s like starting a season over,” Freeze said of the extended layoff. “You’re not quite sure how that’s going to be for us. We will see. We’ll knock the rust off and hopefully settle in.”

For Malik, he says he is fully recovered after the positive COVID diagnosis. “I think I’m doing fine. I feel really good after coming back. I didn’t have many symptoms.”


Hugh Freeze has been peppered with questions for much of his Liberty tenure, and increasingly so this season, on other job openings he has been rumored for. This week, in preparation for the Cure Bowl, he was asked during the Cure Bowl press conference about him wanting to prove himself after his time at Ole Miss didn’t end as he wanted.

“I like to win,” he said. “I like to build programs that compete and win games. I don’t necessarily define myself by what the scoreboard says, but certainly that is one of the proofs that you know what you’re doing. To come into a place that’s moving into FBS and to go to two straight bowl games, it’s very rewarding. Whenever you get let go from a job, you want to prove that, you know what, I’m good at what I do. I think that would be the case for anybody that’s worth their salt. If they want to prove that they can do the job that they enjoy doing and are called to do.”

In recent weeks, three SEC job openings have come available, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, and Auburn. Freeze was mentioned among the leaders for both South Carolina and Auburn, but those programs have since made their hires of other candidates.

“I’ve been at the highest level of college football in conferences like that,” he said. “There’s an attractiveness to those, but there’s also a lot of things I didn’t care for also.”


It’s been a while since the Liberty football team has been on the field as the Flames had to shut down all team related activities on Dec. 3 just before the originally scheduled game with Coastal Carolina on Dec. 5 which was canceled.

“Everyone that has been on our two deep should be available for the game,” Freeze said earlier this week. “Unfortunately, there are several kids who have missed significant time in prepping, some of them come out Wednesday or Thursday from their 10 day or 14 day quarantine, that’s not great.”

Additionally, it sounds like the rest of the team is as healthy as they can be from an injury aspect.

“Outside of that,” Freeze said of the COVID issues, “injury wise we are as good as we have been for most of the year.”