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Liberty coach Hugh Freeze on mend, awaits OK to travel

(AP Photo/Matt Bell)

By The Associated Press

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) Liberty coach Hugh Freeze says his back feels better, but it's not yet clear if he will be able to travel to this weekend's game at Louisiana.

"I'm going to let the doctors kind of guide me knowing that going to an away game, I'm going to have to be able to sit up - at least, that's the best case - for four-plus hours probably to call a game," the 49-year-old Freeze said at his weekly news briefing.

The Flames leave for Lafayette, Louisiana, on Friday afternoon for the Saturday game.

"I think the next few days are going to be critical in deciding that," he said.

Freeze had back surgery on Aug. 16 and has also battled a staph infection doctors discovered during the procedure. He has participated in practices since then by video hook-ups to a hotel room near campus where he has been staying. He has not been allowed to climb the steps at his family's town house in Lynchburg. Technology also allows his to communicate with coaches and, in some instances, players from his hotel room.

When Liberty opened the season against No. 21 Syracuse on Saturday night at home, Freeze entered the stadium in a wheelchair and watched the game from a hospital bed set up in one of the coaches' boxes.

The bed was used to support his back. He addressed the team before the game, at halftime and after the game by video. He also had a postgame media session using the same technology.

Freeze, in his first season at Liberty, said he called most first- and second-down plays against the Orange and consulted with his defensive coaches on some key third-down calls. But he found it difficult to see the game clock at times. The Flames lost 24-0.

Sitting in a chair is still not very comfortable, he said Monday.

Freeze had an MRI last week when he experienced new discomfort. He said doctors found an "extreme amount of fluid that had gathered on the nerves where they did the operation." He added that he's not experiencing the same problem now.

On Sunday night, he said he turned over in bed both ways while sleeping without problems.

Waiting for doctors to clear him for normal activities has tested his patience.

"The most frustrating thing for me right now is I haven't been on the practice field with these kids in 15, 16 days, and I think it shows," he said. "... I just am ready to be back on the practice field. So this week my goal is to do whatever the doctors say so that I can be back on the practice field. Whatever that means come Thursday or Friday with Lafayette, that is what it is. I've got a great staff; they obviously have handled it very well."

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Updated September 3, 2019

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