With Syracuse’s first game against Liberty just over ten days away, it’s officially time to start dialing in on that week one matchup. This season we’re talking with those familiar with SU’s opponents to give you the inside scoop from the other side.
This week, we chatted with Damien Sordelett, the Liberty Athletics beat writer for the Lynchburg News and Advance. We talk about Hugh Freeze, transfer QB Malik Willis and just how fired up Flames fans are for opening day at Williams Stadium.
The Fizz: What do you think this team is going to look like under Hugh Freeze in his first season?
Damien Sordelett: It will probably look similar to his first two years when he was at the other programs. If you look back at Arkansas State, the one year he was there when they just tore through the Sun Belt. The first year at Ole Miss they went 7-6. I’m thinking it’s going to be more toward that first year at Ole Miss where there will be some growing pains, especially with the offense and the type of schedule Liberty is playing this year, you’re getting a Top-25 Syracuse team that is going to have arguably one of the best defenses in the nation with all those returning players… You’re going to see some ups and downs, especially with the up-tempo RPO based offense he wants to run.
The Fizz: So, if you know anything about Syracuse football, in terms of the fans in the offseason, fans are fired up about the potential. What’s the mood around Liberty football like? What’s the vibe around the fans?
DS: They’re jackup up as well. There’s been a lot of excitement since his hiring just because the reputation that he has of being an offensive genus. Just the points that are put up on the board. You know, that’s what sells tickets these days. In a day and age when you have so many options of watching games remotely, and a way to save money by being able to stay home and sit on your couch and go to your fridge. You want to be there in person to watch this offense operate. From what I’ve been told, ticket sales are improving. I’ve read on the message boards a lot of Syracuse fans are talking about going to the game. I even read one guy was mentioning that he’s already bought 65 tickets for him and a group of his friends to make the trip down to Lynchburg. There’s a lot of hype surrounding this one.
The Fizz: What are the expectations from the fans for week one. Do they think maybe a shot to knock off Syracuse, is that a long shot? How do they view the Orange?
DS: Well, they view the Orange as very competitive. The spreads from Vegas suggest that. Right now, the consensus is a 17.5 points spread in favor of Syracuse. Right now for Liberty fans you want to be competitive. You go back about five years ago, Liberty was at North Carolina, North Carolina was ranked, and Liberty was leading in the third quarter and had the fan base buzzing… then all the sudden, turnover, UNC scored, turnover… for Liberty you want to play competitively… I’m expecting Syracuse to win this one and probably cover the spread.
To hear our entire interview with Damien, please click here.