UAB will debut their brand new $200M stadium on Saturday night, their first game played at the sparkling Protective Stadium. The Blazers are the only FBS team to have not played a home game so far this season and this will be their first home contest since Oct. 23, 2020 when UAB took on Louisiana.

The Blazers opened the season in a neutral site game against FCS opponent Jacksonville State in Montgomery, Alabama. Since then, UAB has played three straight games away from home, travelling to Georgia, North Texas, and Tulane. This will be the first of two straight games played at Protective Stadium with five total games scheduled at the venue this season.

Protective Stadium’s capacity is roughly 45,000 and it is expected to be near capacity on Saturday night. The Blazers have reportedly already sold over 35,000 tickets to the game, and they would routinely hit 25,000+ in their old home of Legion Field while occasionally going over 35,000.

This will be the second time Liberty has been the visiting opponent in a team’s first game in its new stadium. The Flames fell to Georgia Southern, 48-11, on Sept. 29, 1984 in the first ever game at Paulson Stadium.

“They are opening their new stadium which I know that’s exciting,” Freeze said. “I’m real thrilled for them to get that. I know they’ve been through some ups and downs over the last several years with some uncertainty. The commitment to their kids and their coaching kids I know has got to be exciting.”


Liberty will be looking to bounce back from the team’s first loss of the season and the first setback since falling to NC State on Nov. 21, 2020 by a score of 15-14. The Flames are also looking to keep from having consecutive losses since Nov. 9 and Nov. 23, 2019 when Liberty fell to BYU and Virginia. Liberty is 4-2 coming off a loss since Freeze has taken over as head coach prior to the 2019 season.

The two losses to BYU and Virginia were sandwiched with an open date in between. So, Liberty has not lost two games in successive weeks since the first two games of Freeze’s tenure, when the Flames opened the year 0-2 with losses to Syracuse, 24-0, and Louisiana, 35-14.


First year Liberty safeties coach Jack Curtis will be returning home this weekend when the Flames head to Birmingham, a city he grew up in. He was actually born just a couple of miles from UAB’s new football stadium.

“Great childhood memories,” he stated. “Spent my childhood there. It’s where I spent the majority of my youth.”

“You grow up in Alabama, there are two programs you pull for – Auburn or Alabama,” Curtis explained. “My dad went to the University of Alabama. Growing up, in those days, a big Coach Bryant fan. A lot to celebrate back in those days, real good football, and not much has changed since then at the University of Alabama.”

Being one of the younger Division I FBS football programs, UAB didn’t have a football team when Curtis was growing up in Birmingham, but he has admired their program from a distance in recent years.

“They’ve done a remarkable job in how far they’ve brought the program in recent history.”


Liberty is as close to being back to full strength as they have been all season. Backup center John Kourtis continues to be out as he recovers from an MCL injury. Wide receiver Jaivian Lofton is still out as he recovers from a knee injury suffered in the season opener against Campbell. Punter Aidan Alves had to have surgery and a plate put in his clavicle so he will be out for an extended period of time.

Wide receiver DJ Stubbs has missed the past two games and he was not at practice during Tuesday morning’s open session. The offensive linemen who have been banged up during the early part of the season are all getting back to full strength. Damian Bounds, Cooper McCaw, Bryce Mathews, and Jonathan Graham are all back at practice.

“I don’t know that a few of them are 100%, but they’re going to play,” Freeze said of his offensive linemen. “I think it shows in some of the film last week. Certainly, I don’t think they were 100%. They seem to be better this week, but they’re going to go. So, it’s good to have all the bodies there, for sure.”

Wide receiver Khaleb Coleman, who had knee surgery during the offseason, was back at practice on Tuesday and did not appear to be limited. It is likely that he is still not ready for game action.

On Thursday, Freeze said that he is not very confident Lofton will be able to give it a go on Saturday, and that he is hopeful Stubbs will be able to play.