Sunday, September 4, 2011

Old Dominion Home Opener - Not This Year

In 2009, its first season of college football in 70 years, Old Dominion University won a 28-27 contest at Jacksonville University.  Many fans expected to open the 2010 season with a win against that same Jacksonsville team.  However, the Dolphins wound up winning 35-25 to the surprise of 19,782 fans at Foreman Field.  With the vast number of injuries incurred leading up to the game, the offense performed unevenly the whole game.

Would the Monarchs open the 2011 with another choppy performance against the Campbell Camels?  No.  Not this year.

Old Dominion University is officially a part of CAA Football.  At least that's what this t-shirt told me.

You can read the conventional stories about the game with the links below.  What we're trying to accomplish with this blog is to provide information from a different perspective than those who get paid to cover the sport.  Rich Radford wrote a couple pieces for The Virginian-Pilot and gives a great summary.  Bob Molinaro, also of The Pilot, wrote a commentary about what the performance of true-and-red freshmen against Campbell means for the program. 

But we're going to highlight the important plays, players and general aspects that mainly go unnoticed to the general fan.  I learned a lesson from Defiantly Dutch about taking notes during games to remember specific times, plays and game situations.  With five pages of notes in hand, here are things that may did not get enough attention.

God Bless America.


We're not referring to Jonathan Plisco's 54-and-59-yard punts that put the Camels back inside their own 5 yard line twice in the third quarter.  We're talking about a key sequence in the second quarter involving Thomas DeMarco.  On one possession early in the quarter, his pass was tipped and intercepted around the Monarch 40.  Down 14-7, Campbell pushed the ball to ODU's 2 and went for it from there on fourth and one. 

The Monarchs defensive line stopped the Camels' RB for no gain.  On the next snap throwing from his end zone, DeMarco completed a 35-yard pass to Prentice Gill along the left sideline.  Old Dominion would punt four plays later as of the offense stalled, with DeMarco (yes, DeMarco and not Plisco) punting the ball into Campell's end zone.  Despite not scoring, ODU completely shifted field position for the rest of the quarter and would outscore Campbell 14-0 to take a 28-7 halftime lead.

DeMarco would score on a 12-yard run in the second quarter.


The coaches' gameplan obviously revolved around redshirt freshman Antonio Vaughan, as he caught six passes for 97 yards while also scoring on a 30-yard reverse wide receiver sweep.  You need to get the ball in the hands of your playmakers.  However, a total of ten Monarchs caught at least one pass, with seven catching at least three.  A running back, redshirt freshman Angus Harper, led all ODU receivers with seven receptions for 58 yards. 

Wide receiver might be the team's deepest position, which hopefully will counter-balance the team's lack of proven depth at running back.  As the season goes on, expect different players to lead the team in receptions - we could have seven different players lead the team in receptions in a game this season.

Vaughan, 5, was the breakout star in the Monarchs' win.  On his first play from scrimmage seen here, he hauled in a pass for 43 yards.


One Monarch whose play did not get sufficient recognition is safety Paul Morant.  Despite not getting the start, the true sophomore recorded ODU's only interception of the game along with two pass breakups and five total tackles.  Five minutes into the second quarter, Campbell quarterback Braden Smith was flushed out of the pocket to his right on second down.  His pass was picked off by Morant, who returned the ball inside the 15 (his fumble was recovered by Chris Burnette.)  One play later, DeMarco hit paydirt and ODU was up 21-7.

Morant came out of nowhere on this play to intercept Smith's pass.  Thankfully my dad gave me the sequence of the play since I was waiting for my camera to re-load after snapping this picture.

No matter the talent of the secondary, it is difficult for corners and safeties to cover receivers if the defense gets no pressure on the quarterback.  This was not the case for ODU's front four today.  The Monarchs posted ten tackles for loss and had five total sacks.  Of redshirt freshman Dominique Guinn-Bailey's three tackles, two were TFL while the third was a sack.  You could say he had a productive debut.  Ronnie Cameron led all Monarchs with nine tackles, of which two were TFL, and added 0.5 sacks.  The defensive line helped the secondary look its best in the program's brief tenure.

Ronnie Cameron rushes up the middle to pressure Smith in the first quarter.

All in all, the Monarchs controlled the game once the game was 7-7 in the first quarter.  Campbell was among the leaders in rushing yards among Pioneer Football League members last season, so the Monarchs may have been surprised a bit to see six passes on their opening drive.  From that point forward, the only other time Campbell scored was when they started a third quarter drive from ODU's 46 and got a phantom personal foul call.  Antonio Vaughan is going to be a treat for Monarch fans with his speed, and I'm glad the team redshirted him last season.

However, this was more or less the outcome Monarch fans expected.  The turnout and energy from the fans was excellent, though it's still odd seeing half the stadium leave during the third quarter of a game (I've never left a football game early, no matter the score).  There is no other chance for a blowout this season with Hampton and a full slate of CAA teams on the home schedule.  Saturday's win simply confirmed that the Monarchs are better than a Campbell program that's had one more season of play under its belt than ODU.  And thankfully there were no injuries reported other than Brandon Carr's shoulder injury.

Next week, Old Dominion faces a significantly better opponent in future conference mate Georgia State.  I'll have a preview of that game through a conversaion with Ben Moore, one of their best and longest-standing supporters, who is also an author for SB Nation.


No comments:

Post a Comment