Saturday, Sept. 5, 3 p.m. ET
The Old Dominion Monarchs are one of the new kids on the turf when it comes to football. They restarted their grid program just seven years ago and transitioned to the FBS last year.
It was a good year for the Monarch, who rode the arm of Taylor Heinicke to a 6-6 overall mark and 4-4 record in the relatively tough Conference USA East. Heinicke, who won the Walter Payton Award (FCS version of the Heisman Trophy) during his time at ODU, is gone. Redshirt freshman Shuler Bentley is the most likely starter behind center and backed up Heinicke last season.
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► Sophomore running back Ray Lawry stepped off 947 yards last year and was named Conference USA Freshman of the Year. Vincent Lowe and Jeremy Cox are also part of the mix at that position.
► Standout receiver Antonio Vaughn departed, but there are a number of other targets available.
► Center Josh Mann, an all-conference center, is gone, but there are 10 linemen with significant experience.
►The defensive picture wasn’t very good last year as ODU relied on a number of young players while surrendering 38 ppg. Big losses to offensive powerhouses Marshall (56 pts) and Western Kentucky (66 pts) didn’t help the final average. Linebacker is one of the stronger positions for this unit.
► Placeicker Ricky Segers is back from an ACL injury. Satchel Ziffer handled the position after Seger’s injury. The two will battle for the position going forward.
► The Eagles boast one of the Mid-American’s Conference’s more dynamic athletes in quarterback Reginal Bell. He is certainly special running the ball, but has also show flashes of being an effective passer. Consistecy will likely be the key to how effective he – and the Eagles – are this season. The offensive line will have a lot to say about that, and that unit is in something of a retooling mode.
► Senior Dustin Creel is one of the more experienced options in the receiving corps. Injury slowed him last year after a decent 2013.
► Defense has been one of the Eagles biggest problems – okay, a really big problem. They allowed 40.9 ppg and 498.8 ypg. Linebacking is the strongest area, with Great Ibe leading that group. Pat O’Connor is a stalwart at defensive end.
► Dylan Mulder is back at placekicker and Tyler Allen has proved a very dangerous threat in kickoff returns.