On Tuesday, Liberty quarterbacks Malik Willis and Chris Ferguson and running back Joshua Mack took questions from the media. There was a wide range questions and below is ASOR’s report from the player interviews…
MALIK WILLIS NAMED THE STARTER
On Monday, Malik Willis was named the starting quarterback, beating out Chris Ferguson and Johnathan Bennett for the position.
“It feels really great to be named the guy here,” said Willis. “I take it with great honor. I just appreciate the coaches having faith in me, appreciate the program having faith in me, and the guys in the locker room, as well.”
Willis continued that appreciative tone. The coaching staff is optimistic that the playbook will open much more with the mobile Willis behind center.
“I appreciate the faith they placed in me and I just want to go out there and do whatever they tell me to do with great execution and the right way. I appreciate them thinking so highly of me that they think I can open the play book more and I just want to go out there and execute it to the best of my ability.”
Saturday will be the first start Willis has made at quarterback since his senior year of high school in 2016, but he says he won’t have any nerves.
“None, honestly. At the end of the day it’s next level but it’s still football. I’ve been in games. I’ve played in games, it’s just this time I get to start from the beginning, that’s all. I’ve got to go out there and execute and do what the coaching staff game plans for us.”
“I’m really excited,” said Willis. “This is an opportunity of a lifetime. I plan on going out there and taking advantage of it.”
WILLIS HAS TAKEN A LONG PATH TO GET HERE
“Everything happened for a reason,” Willis said when asked about transferring to Liberty. “I’m just glad God had something for me. I take it as a gift.”
He spent two seasons at Auburn before being beat out for the starting QB job there, and then decided to transfer to Liberty. After the NCAA denied his waiver to become immediately eligible, Willis was forced to redshirt and serve on the scout team last season.
“Adversity is everywhere in our lives, we’ve just got to take that adversity and turn it into the best that we can, not get down. You’ve got to stay positive in any situation, just knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. No matter what you’re going through, and you just keep your faith strong and you keep going.”
WILLIS NOT WORRIED ABOUT HIS CRITICS
Willis has been described as a running quarterback, and his biggest knock has been his ability to pass the ball. He says he’s not worried about what others have to say.
“People are going to think what they’re going to think,” Malik said. “Coach Austin is a great coach. He coaches me fundamentally every day, as well as the rest of us. I don’t take too much mind in what people are saying, honestly. I go to work everyday. We’re just worried about what’s going on in our bubble and what we have going on over here.”
MACK ON HIS NEW QB
Liberty running back Joshua Mack is excited about the explosiveness Malik Willis brings to the quarterback position.
The D-Ends, they can’t rush up the field,” Mack said. “They have to stay home because we have a quarterback who actually can get out of the pocket, use his legs, and extend drives. With him being in the backfield and being able to extend those plays, it makes runs for the running backs way better.”
MACK CONFIDENT LIBERTY CAN BE SUCCESSFUL AGAINST WKU
Watching their game against Louisville, Mack saw some opportunities for the Flames to attack the WKU defense.
“I definitely think we can utilize some of our athletes like Demario (Douglas) and DJ (Stubbs) outside to go against some of their secondary. I think we’re going to have success running the ball on them because they run a 4-2 box.”
FERGUSON DISAPPOINTED BUT MOVING FORWARD
Chris Ferguson lost the starting quarterback job to Willis and was, understandably so, disappointed when hearing the news.
“Obviously the news was disappointing, discouraged for a minute, but once you put that behind you, you see the opportunities ahead of you,” Ferguson explained. “It’s an interesting season we have ahead of us. Coach mentioned Malik is the starter for week one and congratulations to him, he’s worked hard. They see an offense with him right now, going into week one. I respect that. I respect their decisions and what they’ve done. I’ve got to look internally and see what I can do better from a personal standpoint.”
FERGUSON PREPARING AS THOUGH HE IS THE STARTER
Ferguson is still preparing this week as though he is the team’s starter.
“You’ve got to act like you’re the starter. When you go out to practice, you have to go out there like you’re going into that game, like you’re getting every rep.”