Malik Willis and Liberty aren't messing around anymore
If you new anything about Liberty Flames football this year, it's most likely because you either were a fan of the program or knew the name Hugh Freeze. After a promising 8-5 season in 2019, the Flames are making a statement this year, with their latest game being the loudest part of said statement. Thanks largely to Freeze and quarterback Malik Willis, this is a team that's demanding respect.
Willis is another example of why it's okay to transfer and get a fresh start elsewhere. Originally enrolled at Auburn, he decided things weren't working out and transferred to Liberty. Sitting behind Stephen Calvert allowed him to learn the playbook and feel comfortable with his new team. That time proved to be vital to his 2020 success, and now his team is benefitting from his success.
Willis and the Flames just pulled off their second Power 5 upset of the season this weekend with their 38-35 win over Virginia Tech. They also beat Syracuse two games prior 38-21. Liberty's quarterback has shown flashes of greatness throughout the season, including this weekend. In his first game as a starter, Willis rushed for 168 yards and three touchdowns against Western Kentucky. Last week against Southern Miss, he threw for 345 yards and six touchdowns. Even when he's not putting up gaudy numbers, he's found ways to make an impact.
Against Virginia Tech, he rushed for 108 yards and threw three touchdown passes, but most importantly he led the game winning drive. Granted, the final kick came with some theatrics.
A near heartbreaking loss turned into a game winning kick, putting the Flames at 6-0 on the season. It's a reminder that this team is more than just a coach.
Willis seemingly came out of nowhere, but now he's proving that teams must scheme against him. He's a big time dual threat who's capable of exploding at any time, and is stealing some of the spotlight from his head coach.
Freeze deserves a lot of credit too. Getting to this point requires a coach who knows what he's doing, and Freeze continues to prove that he can coach at any level (as long as he's keeping things clean). Liberty's 6-0 record puts them in the conversation for the New Year's Six bowl game, though they'd need help at this point. Undefeated Cincinnati and BYU teams would most likely be ahead of them, but they're at least in the running.
Liberty came into the season as a team that was known for their head coach, but now they're finding ways to prove that they're more than just that. Malik Willis is a stud, and the Flames mean business, even if the opponent is from a Power 5 conference. It's the year of the underdog, and teams like Liberty are to be treated with respect.