Last Season: 6-6 Overall, 4-4 C-USA
Head Coach: Bobby Wilder, 7th Season at ODU (3rd year in FBS, 14-10)
Projected Returning Starters: Offense 7*, Defense 5*
Key Returning Players: OL Tyler Fisher, OL Conner Mewbourne, WR David Washington, RB Ray Lawry, DL Poncho Barnwell, DL Rashaad Coward
Last Season: Last season was the first time in history that EMU and ODU met on the gridiron. On a cloudy, wet, windy, spitting rain type of day; Old Dominion took victory in the first meeting by a score of 17-3. A punt returned for a touchdown, and a short touchdown run, were the only two touchdowns of the game, both by ODU. EMU saw a lot of promise in this game but had trouble getting into the endzone.
New Face Under Center for ODU
A year ago, Old Dominion had their offense revolve around QB Taylor Heinicke. The Monarchs offense played with a fast paced no-huddle scheme, which allowed them to throw for a ridiculous amount of yards each game.
This year ODU no longer has their Walter Payton Award Winner, which is the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy at the FCS level. Shuler Bentley, a redshirt freshman will take over as the starting quarterback for an outstanding offense.
“Well to be starting at Old Dominion, he’s good,” EMU coach Chris Creighton commented. “You like to be able to see a guy to know how to prepare for him.”
Bentley has yet to see a snap at the college level, as he was redshirted last year.
Old Dominion head coach Bobby Wilder stated that Bentley is the quarterback of the future, and that he is further along than Heinicke was when he was a freshman.
Offensive Weapons Pose a Huge Threat
On the offensive side of the ball, ODU didn’t lose many players from last season. A lot of talent returns with just a couple losses in a few key positions like quarterback and center.
The running back position looks to be one of the stronger positions for Old Dominion this year. Sophomore Ray Lawry will be one of the premier running backs in Conference USA for the 2015 season. Lawry was the conference freshman of the year last season, compiling 947 yards on the ground along with 16 rushing touchdowns.
“I’ve been pleased with this group of running backs,” said ODU head coach Bobby Wilder. “We have more depth and more talent at running back than we’ve ever had.”
At wide receiver Zach Pascal, Marques Little, and David Washington who was originally a quarterback, all return with height and speed. ODU has always counted on having good receivers for a pass heavy offense.
The offensive line lost just one starter from a year ago at center. Junior Troy Butler looks to be the projected starter in that the open offensive line spot. Senior guard Tyler Fisher is one of the best offensive linemen in the Monarchs conference this season. He was All-Conference USA honorable mention last season.
Old Dominion suffered a few injuries coming into this season with the losses of tight ends Melvin Vaughn and Adam Swann. Both were key in the Monarchs passing game.
Defense Still Going to be an Issue
The defensive backs for Old Dominion had many struggles last year, finishing 118th in the country in passing yards given up per game, averaging 255 yards against them.
ODU comes in with a young and inexperienced group of cornerbacks that round out the ODU depth chart, making this a huge weak point in the ODU defense.
The Monarchs defense took a few losses due to graduation on the defensive line. Poncho Barnwell one of the returning starters from last season looks to be the leader of the defense after having 34 tackles and 3.5 sacks last season.
-Old Dominion is 4-2 in road openers since 2009
-Head Coach Bobby Wilder is 4-8 on the road in his career at ODU
-2014 was the first year ODU was a FBS school. (FCS from 2009-2013)
NOTE: The game time has changed from 3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.