#100 Old Dominion Football 2015 Preview

Old Dominion Monarchs

Overall Rank: #100
#6 Conference USA

Old Dominion Team Page#100 Old Dominion Football 2015 PreviewBuy Old Dominion Football Tickets

Considering Old Dominion was playing their first full FBS schedule last season, a 6-6 record was pretty impressive. The Monarchs beat four Conference USA foes, including an overtime victory over a very good Louisiana Tech team. Six wins again this year and Old Dominion will probably go to their first ever bowl game. However, ODU may not have to settle for just six wins.

2014 Record: 6-6, 4-4
2014 Bowl: None
Coach: Bobby Wilder (52-20 at Old Dominion, 52-20 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brian Scott
Defensive Coordinator: Rich Nagy

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ray Lawry, RB, 947 yards
Passing: None
Receiving: Zach Pascal, WR, 743 yards
Tackles: T.J. Ricks, LB, 80
Sacks: Poncho Barnwell, DE, 3.5
Interceptions: Fellonte Misher, S, 2; Christian Byrum, S, 2

Other Key Returnees: WR David Washington, P Jarrett Cervi, K Ricky Segers, LB Martez Simpson

Key Losses: QB Taylor Heinicke, WR Antonio Vaughan, RB Gerard Johnson, LB D.J. Simon, CB Eriq Lewis

The offense, with one massive exception, returns pretty well intact. Running back Ray Lawry returns after rushing for 947 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is amazingly efficient in the red zone and can be pretty dangerous catching passes out of the backfield as well. And he did all of that as a freshman. With a year of experience under his belt and a few more pounds added to his 5-10 frame, Lawry can be the leader of the offense. With an extremely experienced offensive line, expect Lawry to have a big year and Coach Bobby Wilder to start feeding him more this time around. Top receiver Antonio Vaughan is gone, but ODU can rely on Zach Pascal and David Washington. Pascal caught 59 passes for 743 yards and seven touchdowns, while Washington added 47 receptions for 599 yards and four scores. The question is who is going to get them the ball?

Taylor Heinicke wrapped up his career at Old Dominion by throwing for 3,476 yards and 30 touchdowns. Heinicke was the player who took this team from the FCS to the FBS with relative ease. The program has been adding depth and talent during that time, but now their superstar is gone. No other ODU quarterback even attempted a pass last season and whoever ends up under center will lack experience. The most logical candidates are redshirt freshman Shuler Bentley and junior college transfer Joey Verhaegh. Heinicke needed to be prolific to keep up with the poor Old Dominion defense. The front four loses three starters from a unit that allowed 222.5 rushing yards per game. The top tackler, linebacker D.J. Simon, is also gone. That leaves quite a few holes to fill across the entire defense and it remains to be seen if the increased level of talent can make up for a lack of experience.

The Bottom Line:
Heinicke is a huge loss, but it could be easily overblown. Coach Wilder knows how to get the most out of his offense. However, that could mean keeping the ball on the ground a little bit more if his new quarterback struggles. An improving defense will be more important when looking towards the future of the program. If the defense can start making major strides, ODU will be competing for conference titles soon enough. For now, bowl eligibility is a reachable goal.

Projected Bowl: New Orleans Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 149.4 (NR in nation, NR in conference)
Passing Offense: 292.5 (NR, NR)
Total Offense: 441.9 (NR, NR)
Scoring Offense: 32.7 (NR, NR)
Rushing Defense: 222.5 (NR, NR)
Pass Defense: 229.7 (NR, NR)
Total Defense: 452.2 (NR, NR)
Scoring Defense: 38.0 (NR, NR)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (NR, NR)
Sacks: 1.5 (NR, NR)
Sacks Allowed: 2.33 (NR, NR)


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