Update: According to a Liberty University athletic department official, the Liberty football program does have some “COVID concerns” and has been in communication with Coastal Carolina officials. The Flames are conducting their regular COVID testing this week and did hold a regular team practice Wednesday morning. The University will not confirm any specific reports about positive test results on individuals.
Liberty quarterback Malik Willis has tested positive for COVID, multiple sources tell ASOR. The Flames are awaiting the results of a rerun test, but Willis is in good health and asymptomatic at this time, a source said.
This obviously puts Willis as a big question mark for Saturday’s game pending the results of additional tests. No. 25 Liberty (9-1) is scheduled to play No. 14 Coastal Carolina (9-0) Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. on ESPNU. ESPN’s College GameDay announced Monday it will broadcast Saturday from Coastal Carolina ahead of the big matchup of the former Big South rivals. The Chanticleers opened as 7 point favorites but the line has moved to 10.5 in some books as of Wednesday morning. From all indications, it seems that Liberty is doing everything it can to still play in the big game Saturday.
This season, Willis has completed 151 of 236 passes for 2,040 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 807 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 120 carries. The recent addition to the Maxwell Award Watch List is the only FBS player to rank among the nation’s top 15 for both passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns. He leads all of FBS quarterbacks in rushing.
If Willis is unable to play Saturday against the Chanticleers, the Flames would turn to either Chris Ferguson or Johnathan Bennett. In 6 games played this season, the former Maine quarterback, Ferguson, has completed 19 of 37 passes for 197 yards, and 4 touchdowns. He was the starter for Liberty’s game against North Alabama earlier this season when Willis missed the game with a left elbow injury. Against the Lions, Ferguson completed 12 of 21 passes for 64 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The redshirt-freshman Bennett has seen playing time in 5 games, completing 4 of 5 passes for 77 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception.