WILLIS ANSWERS CRITICISM
Earlier this week, Old Dominion safety Harrell Blackmon was asked about Malik Willis.
“He’s a good guy once he gets out the pocket, but I don’t think he can pass the ball that good,” Blackmon said of the Liberty quarterback and potential first round draft pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
Willis answered that criticism and had his best game of the early season. He completed 21 of 28 passes for 242 yards and 4 touchdowns. He finished the game with 9 carries for 77 yards and 2 additional scores. Following the game, Willis was asked about Blackmon’s quote during the week.
“I don’t play for him,” said Willis. “I play for the glory of God. I play to go out there and play with this ability I am blessed with. I try to glorify His name.”I’m not playing for their approval. He has his opinion. Everyone is entitled to one.”
CHARLES HAS CAREER GAME
Last week, Liberty defensive tackle Henry Chibueze had a career game with 6 tackles and a sack against Troy, but the big interior defensive lineman missed Saturday’s game against Old Dominion. In his absence, it allowed Liberty freshman defensive tackle have a career game himself with three sacks.
“With him having COVID, that’s unfortunate, but it kind of motivated me to step up and play that role that he played for us,” Charles said of Chibueze following the game against the Monarchs.
The three sacks in one game is the most by a Liberty player since Jessie Lemonier had three against Buffalo on Sept. 14, 2019. Charles recorded his first career sack last week at Troy.
“It feels real good,” Charles said. “It felt great to be out there producing out there. Tonight was motivation for me out there. Seeing Henry Chibueze going out there doing what he had to do, it was kind of like his coming out party. Going into this game, I was like last week it was Buzey turn. He did what he had to do. This week, it was mine. That’s how I went into the game. God gave me the strength to go out there and ball out and Coach Aldridge put me in the position to make plays.”
SPECIAL TEAMS MISCUES GIVE ODU LIFE
Liberty completely dominated the Monarchs on the field, particularly on defense and offense. Despite their strong play, ODU was still within striking distance at halftime, trailing by just 11 points at 28-17. It was a couple of special teams miscues which gave Old Dominion life in the second quarter.
Punt returner Demario Douglas muffed a punt that Old Dominion recovered in Liberty territory. That led to Old Dominion’s first points of the night on a 43-yard field goal with 46 seconds left in the first quarter to cut Liberty’s lead to 14-3.
A couple of possessions later, the Flames’ were called for a roughing the punter penalty to give Old Dominion a first down and some momentum. The Monarchs would ride that waive to a touchdown that trimmed the lead to 21-10.
Later in the game, Old Dominion was called for a penalty when they hit Liberty punter Aidan Alves. Alves fell to the turf in pain and was helped off the field and into the locker room. He would return to the game for a punt and as the team’s holder in the second half, but not before Max Morgan made his debut in his stead at both punter and holder.
“We work backups every week,” Liberty head coach Hugh Freeze said of Morgan’s debut. “He didn’t punt it as well as he’s capable of. I’m sure he was quite nervous. We hope that Aidan is okay. He will have to get some x-rays and look at that clavicle area. I know he’s in a lot of pain right now, hopefully he will be fine.”
STUBBS MISSES FIRST GAME OF HIS CAREER
Liberty wide receiver DJ Stubbs missed the first game of his career on Saturday night against the Monarchs. He was not listed as being injured during the week, but Stubbs came out of the locker room during the pregame warmups not in pads and with a walking boot on his right foot.
Stubbs has played in 50 games during his Liberty career, and he was looking forward to replicate what he did the last time Liberty and Old Dominion faced each other. In that game in 2018, Stubbs had 7 receptions for 155 yards and scored Liberty’s first ever touchdown as an FBS program. No timeline for his injury was immediately available.