The Liberty Flames (1-0) hit the road for the first time this season as they head to Troy, Alabama to take on the Troy Trojans (1-0). Kickoff from Veterans Memorial Stadium is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST on ESPN+.

The Flames are 2-1 all-time against Troy, with the first two meetings coming before the programs moved up to the FBS level. This is the second game of a home and home series these two programs scheduled shortly after Liberty announced its pending move to the FBS as an Independent. The Flames upset Troy and head coach Neal Brown in the first game, 22-16 on Oct. 13, 2018. In a game played at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Virginia, Buckshot Calvert found BJ Farrow for a 9-yard touchdown score with just 2:23 left in the game to secure the victory.

A lot has changed since that previous meeting including both teams hiring new head coaches. Liberty hired Hugh Freeze to replace Turner Gill while Troy tabbed Chip Lindsey to take the reigns from Neal Brown who left to become West Virginia’s head coach. Lindsey came to troy from Auburn where he was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2017-2018. His previous stops also include Southern Miss, Arizona, State, and he was Troy’s quarterbacks coach in 2010.

Lindsey began his coaching career with various stops at the high school level. This is his first head coaching stop at the FBS level, and he has guided the Trojans to an 11-13 record during his first couple of seasons. Troy has won exactly five games each of the past two years under Lindsey.

“Chip is one of the better offensive guys that I know,” Freeze said of his counterpart this week. “We’ve known each other for a long time. He came up through the high school ranks also. Offensively, he is a really good coach, as a head coach also.”

Troy’s offense last season was up to Lindsey’s standards. The Trojans finished 2020 averaging 27.3 points and 393 yards per game. In their season opener against Southern, those numbers were increased to 55 points and 464 yards led by new quarterback Taylor Powell. The former Missouri signal caller, who transferred to Troy prior to this season, completed 17 of 27 passes for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns.

“First thing is the quarterback transfer makes a big difference,” Freeze said of Troy. “You watch the scheme from last year, it wasn’t as effective as it looked this past week with him. He’s an incredibly accurate passer. I remember him vividly. He came to my camp at my previous job. I think he’s out of Arkansas somewhere. He’s a very accurate passer, mature. He makes a difference.”

Powell spread the ball around in the season opener with 10 different players recording at least one reception and eight with at least two receptions. 5’10” freshman receiver Tez Johnson led the team with 5 receptions for 92 yards and a score. 6’2″ junior receiver Luke Whittemore added 3 receptions for 52 yards.

At running back, Troy is stacked with talent led by Kimani Vidal who rushed for 516 yards as a freshman in 2020. BJ Smith rushed for nearly 1,200 yards in 2018 before missing most of the 2019 season due to an injury. He returned in 2020 and had 81 rushing yards in the opener but finished the year with only 277 yards. Jamontez Woods finished third on the team in rushing in 2020 with 245 yards. That trio paced the Trojans last week against Southern. Vidal had 15 carries for 83 yards and a score, Smith added 60 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, and Woods rushed 13 times for 31 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Trojans were stingy on defense against Southern, holding them to just 3 points and 189 total yards. Troy had four interceptions in the season opener, returning one for a score.

“Defensively they looked outstanding this past week, they are very aggressive,” said Freeze. “They have those six transfers from NC State, Florida State, Michigan, Kent State, Maryland. They did well in the portal. They certainly have improved themselves defensively and were very aggressive.”


  • Liberty is looking for its first ever win in Alabama and the first win by a road team in the Liberty-Troy series all-time. The Flames are 0-6 all-time playing games in Alabama. This is the first of two games scheduled in Alabama this season as Liberty also plays at UAB.
  • The Flames are 6-1 all-time against Sun Belt foes and have won three straight. Troy is the first of three Sun Belt opponents on Liberty’s 2021 schedule alongside Louisiana-Monroe and Louisiana.
  • Head coach Hugh Freeze is looking to become the fastest Flames coach to record 20 victories with a triumph on Saturday against the Trojans.
  • Malik Willis needs one rushing yard to reach 1,000 during his time as a Flame.
  • Troy head coach Chip Lindsey was Auburn’s offensive coordinator during Malik Willis’ two years as a quarterback for the Tigers in 2017 and 2018. Current Troy running backs coach Cole Weeks worked with Auburn’s quarterbacks as a graduate assistant those same two seasons.


Hugh Freeze – “I used to play Troy. I know the kind of athletes they have. It’s going to be a tall task. Like I told our kids (Monday) morning, I always tell them dead straight, this game absolutely is a toss up. It can go either way. They can win it, we can win it. I believe that with all my heart. We’ve got our hands full.”

DC Scott Symons – “This is a really, really good offense we’re about to play and I’m not just saying that. This is arguably, I think, one of the top G5 offenses we have seen just from an explosion level, just their talent level, their skill level from running back to receiver. Their tight ends can run. Their OLine is similar to ours, very experienced OLine that has played well together.”

Malik Willis on his relationship with Troy HC Chip Lindsey – “This is a business meeting. I have to keep it business casual. I look forward to seeing him after the game, I don’t want to see him before the game.”

Jacob Bodden on the OL’s performance in week 1 – “I think we played well enough to win, but that wasn’t our best performance. We definitely have more work to do, and that’s what we’re using this week to hone in our skills, technique, and assignments to make sure we get the job done this weekend.”

Jaivian Lofton on his first career touchdown at Liberty – “(It was an) undescribable moment especially being my parents first time being able to come see me play live, including my grandma. It was a very special moment for me.”

Storey Jackson – “It’s going to be a big challenge. We’ve got a lot of respect for these guys. They’ve got a good quarterback, some good running backs that like to get downhill, and a few explosive players in the slot. We’ve got to lock in and focus on us.


Liberty 27, Troy 24

This is the first true test for each team this season after each opened with FCS blowout wins. The Flames have more experienced pieces that went through these tests a season ago, namely at quarterback, but Troy will be looking to make a statement in front of their large home crowd with a large national audience looking on.