The No. 22 Syracuse Orange football team returns to the field this Saturday against the Liberty Flames, kicking off the 2019 season for both down at Williams Stadium in Lynchburg, Va. Since we’re not Liberty fans (thankfully), we went ahead and asked someone that covers Liberty about the game... and the Flames. Underdog Dynasty’s Reese Becker joins us to talk about Liberty (the school, not the concept) below.
How do you think Hugh Freeze potentially coaching from the booth (if at all) could affect the game for Liberty?
I think it will take SOME of the emotion out of the going-ons if Freeze coaches from the sidelines. Other than that, with how advanced technology is it should be fine. I cover a lot of football and have seen coaches be competitive and win from the booth
Liberty’s independent at the moment, and doesn’t seem like they’re getting a conference invite soon. What’s the long game for the Flames at the FBS level?
I honestly can’t read their long game, obviously the money is there to do whatever, but I think Liberty will still be independent in five years. Though if I had to put them into a conference it would be the Sun Belt
No matter who’s under center for Liberty, it seems that they’ll at least be a capable passing team. What are some of the strengths for both Malik Willis and Stephen Calvert?
The most obvious strength is Calvert’s availability as we still await the decision on Willis. By the time this article is posted Willis may be cleared, and I think he provides a nice wrinkle, but Calvert is the guy, and I think he will be until Freeze sees a reason otherwise. Wouldn’t surprise me to see a little bit of both maybe as Willis is more mobile
Obviously there’s a talent gap between the teams, but which Syracuse position group most concerns you?
This annoys me. There is only a slight perceived talent gap. Liberty has recruited the state strong and has a lot of junior and senior leadership on this team. Both teams are good, but I’d be most worried about is the linebackers, from what I have seen, there is a lot of experience and depth, I’d be worried about them the most.
What’s the expectation for this season at Liberty?
I think it differs based on who you ask, in my opinion, I could honestly see a 6-6 season, but I could also see 3-9. They have two in-state opponents, one with Hampton visiting, and the other at UVA, those are big games as far as recruiting in Virginia goes, despite the fact that they are already doing well especially in the 757.
Who’s one unsung player that we should maybe read up on a bit more before this game?
He is a freshman and wasn’t listed on the depth chart so he may not play a ton this season or in this game. But Tayvion “Tank” Land is a CB from the 757, a very good high school player and a stellar get for Liberty after originally committing to Maryland
What would need to happen for Liberty to pull an upset here?
Much like when Old Dominion upset Virginia Tech last season, someone has to make plays and Liberty has to keep up. The run game will have to work well and Buckshot will need to complete the easy throws and get them in good situations early
Prediction time: Who wins this one and why?
This is a trap game, I think Syracuse might be focused on Maryland and overlooking Liberty because of who the media perceives Liberty to be, a young program just happy to be there.
I could see Liberty winning 38-37.
Certainly hope you’re wrong about that pick, Reese. But otherwise, thanks for stopping by to discuss Saturday’s game. Reese covers Old Dominion and Liberty over at Underdog Dynasty.