Liberty coach Hugh Freeze on loss to #22 Syracuse

hugh freezeOverall thoughts on the game… “I’m disappointed in a lot of things, obviously, and also encouraged by some things. I thought our defense took a huge step forward from last year and the way they competed. The way that they played tonight, I thought their game plan was really good. Outside of a few third downs on screen games, a couple of penalties, I thought they played really solid against a top20 opponent. They really gave us a shot, offensively to be in the game, so that is the real positive coming out of this to me. I think we got a chance over there to be okay if we can stay healthy.”

On not scoring in the red zone… “I told our team as they were in the locker room that I thought that was huge. If you get 10 points there or six points there to give us confidence and momentum, I think the game could have been a little bit different. They started playing us a lot of man-free and putting pressure on us, and we did not handle it well. But you get those points early and you’re up and our defense is playing really well, you never know what happens. Those are the type of plays when we are now trying to compete with some of these Power-5 schools, you have to come away with points there. You can’t turn the ball over in the tight red zone and that is what we did early on.”

The difficulty on being in the press box and not on the sidelines… “I don’t how much it played (a factor). I think me being gone for two weeks probably had an effect somewhat on some things. I think probably if I was one the sideline tonight, I could have maybe talked to Buckshot (Calvert) a little bit more about his drops and his footwork. I tried to do it up here (in the press box), but then you kind of flip it over to the defense and Kent (Austin) is thinking of what you are going to do the next series of third downs. I like to look at him eye-to-eye because he really got sloppy with his mechanics, and I thought it hurt him on some of the pass plays we had. We had a couple of open guys, chances to hit them on third down, and we didn’t. He made a couple of reads that he just hasn’t done in fall camp. I don’t think it had a lot to do with the outcome.”

On how unique was it to coach from a hospital bed… “Man, I just can’t say thanks enough to the Liberty Family. Starting with our President (Jerry Falwell Jr.) and our AD (Ian McCaw) and the whole administration, and the IT department. The things that they have done is not normal or I don’t think it is normal for a lot of universities to react that way. The ideas they have come up with and continue to think through, every possible scenario on how we can make this thing continue to work and they did. My wife and I were talking about it this morning on how blessed we are to be a part of a family like this. I’m disappointed that we did not play a cleaner game offensively tonight and be in this thing in the fourth quarter.”

On his health… “I think I will know better tomorrow and Monday. I felt really good today, and the doctor wanted me to really stay off my feet today and tomorrow. We will have a conversation Monday morning, but it doesn’t hurt right now. This was a wonderful idea, and I do not know if this was Ian (McCaw) or Mickey (Guridy) or IT or who all had this idea. But it is probably a first nationwide, may be a trivia question someday. It was a pretty remarkable idea, and I am thankful for it and again just really disappointed that we didn’t do better offensively.”

On offensive struggles against Syracuse …“First, I give Syracuse credit. Their front four we knew were very talented. They got two guys that both had 10 sacks last year and eight returning starters who were juniors and above. You are playing a very experienced defense, and that front four gave us fits. Once we were not effective running the football, they were really teeing off on us and made it really difficult on our offensive line. You always have to have at least give the appearance of being balanced against better defensive lines. Their defensive line was more athletic than our offensive line. Watch as the year goes, and I would predict that they are going to play good defense throughout the year. It was a good challenge for us, but once we became in their mind one dimensional, you are fighting a very hard uphill battle.”

On what he was able to do in the press box that he would normally do on a typical game day… “I called most of the first and second down plays. Kent called most of the third downs. He has been out there and worked with those third down plans, and defensively I would tell Scott (Symons) from time-to-time what I saw them trying to do on third downs. That is what I did up here tonight, and it felt different. It is odd when I am not talking to officials or calling timeouts when I need to. I had a hard time finding the clocks when I needed to. I didn’t have a game clock here that I could look at and it was hard to see from over there. It was a little different; I don’t like it near as well as being down there eye-to-eye with our players, but hopefully I’ll be back down there very soon.”


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