Liberty University spent their first ever season in the FBS in 2018 as the second part of a transition process and in August, they were officially approved as the 130th school in the Division 1-FBS. It will be the first time that UB and Liberty play each other as FBS schools, but it isn't the first meeting between the programs.
The Bulls traveled down to Lynchburg, VA in 1998 to take on the Flames while both teams were a part of the Division 1-AA. Drew Haddad spearheaded a Bulls comeback in the 3rd quarter, in which his 82-yard punt return touchdown played a huge role in taking the lead at 24-21 after being down 21-3. The teams eventually went to OT where Liberty kicked a field goal to win 27-24.
Many UB fans were looking forward to taking on a Liberty squad that was coached by Turner Gill, but that won't happen. Gill, who coached Buffalo from 2006-09, decided to retire from coaching last season to spend more time his wife Gayle who suffers from a heart condition.
Hugh Freeze is the head coach now. Many of you will recognize that name from his time at Ole Miss, but these days, he's the guy who's been coaching from a hospital bed and dental chair.
Freeze's recent recovery from back surgery and a staph infection has been progressing well, but he has missed a lot of time away from practices.
"I’ve missed 23 practices and I’m sick of that," Freeze told reporters during his weekly press conference. "I’ve had enough of that and I’ve got to do whatever I can to get back out there and get on the sideline."
The main reason Freeze wants to get on the sideline is to improve his communication with senior quarterback Buckshot Calvert. The Florida native has started every game for Liberty since taking over as the starter in October of his true-freshman season. However, Freeze was in the midst of installing a new offense when his back issues surfaced and Calvert doesn't have the full grasp of everything yet.
The Flames have put up just 14 points through two games so far and Freeze has pointed out a few missed reads by Calvert on RPO's that could have changed the tides in their 38-14 loss to UL-Lafayette. Freeze noted "We haven’t progressed exactly as far as I would have hoped in that regard yet."
Liberty's offense was stagnant in their season opening loss to Syracuse. The Flames finished with just 234 total yards, although they performed better against lesser competition in their second game as they put up 361 total yards.
At just 7.0 points per game, Liberty ranks 128th out of 130 schools. That bodes well for a UB defense that just played a solid game against #13 Penn State. In fact, the Bulls outgained the Nittany Lions 429 to 357.
I'd expect UB to continue their physical play when they kick-off Saturday evening at Williams Stadium. Liberty has two inexperienced starters on the left side of their offensive line that defensive ends Taylor Riggins and Malcolm Koonce should be able to feast on. Eddie Wilson should play a big role in the middle against a few smaller linemen on the interior of Calvert's protection. The Flames have already allowed six sacks through two games.
The Bulls' offensive line, on the other hand, has kept Matt Myers upright having allowed only one sack. They physically brought it to Penn State in the trenches and if they have that same attitude Saturday night, then they should be able to impose their will offensively.
Last week, Liberty allowed 406 yards on the ground on 46 carries. Jaret Patterson, Kevin Marks, and company have to be chomping at the bits to get out on the field against a porous rushing defense. I'd expect a heavy rotation of the stable of backs to keep each guy fresh, so that they can just keep pounding the rock. Mix in the occasional Myers toss and the Bulls should find themselves victorious in Lynchburg.