2019 Old Dominion Monarchs Team Preview

After everything came together for a 10-3 season in 2016, it seems that Old Dominion has settled back into the normal routine, going 5-7 and 4-8 the past two years, and a lot is gone from last year’s team.

Bobby Wilder is starting to get into hot seat territory with just one winning season in the five years since Old Dominion joined Conference USA. He brings in David Blackwell, formerly of East Carolina, as the new DC to try and shake things up .

The Monarchs have never had a coach other than Bobby Wilder in the history of the program so parting with him after this year should things continue south is less obvious than it would otherwise be, but if he can’t turn it around by 2020 they might need to start looking for a replacement.

Offense

A ton is gone from an offense that wasn’t great to begin with. Star QB Blake LaRussa is gone along with the top four receivers and three of five on the offensive line.

2017 starter Steven Williams returns, he has been far from impressive the past two seasons (54% completion rate, eight touchdowns, 13 picks) and will likely be challenged by JUCO transfer and one-time Michigan State four-star prospect Messiah deWeaver. Another JUCO transfer Stone Smartt and three-star freshman Hayden Wolff will also have outside shots.

With LaRussa and the top four wide receivers gone, the top returner in the skill corps is likely RB Kesean Strong, who was far from impressive last year (499 yards, nine touchdowns, 4.7 YPA). Matt Geiger shined in limited appearances (212 yards, three touchdowns, 5.4 YPA) and Lala Davis is a redshirt freshman that could challenge as well.

RB Strong and TEs Keion White and Donta Anthony are the top returning pass-catchers, there are almost no wide receivers to speak of. The Monarchs do bring in two Virginia Tech transfers in the receiving corps between TE Chris Cunningham and WR Eric Kumah.

This offense could be a dumpster fire in theory if one of the quarterbacks don’t set up. I’m really worried about this group.

Defense

The defense was pretty bad last year to begin with even with NFL-caliber end Oshane Ximines. The Monarchs now bring in former Jacksonville State and East Carolina DC David Blackwell to steady the ship.

The other end, Tim Ward is gone as well but there are a couple of tackles that got serious playing time last year and could develop into key pieces. The top four linebackers and top three corners are back too, but safety is a huge concern.

ODU did bring in a lot of JUCO transfers as well as an FSU transfer at SS, Calvin Brewton, but this defense is a bit of a jumbled mess. On the bright side most everyone will be back in 2020.

I have faith in Blackwell to right the ship somewhat but this defense has the potential to be pretty awful if JUCOs and backups don’t step up in a big way.

2019 Outlook

This team has the chance to be really bad. Relying on unwanted P5 players and JUCO transfers to right the ship is a high-reward game but it’s risky business.

This team feels way too young to compete for a bowl but could be good in 2020, the question of if Wilder will survive that long is a different question entirely.

Schedule

DateOpponentopp. rankProj. Margin
31-AugNorfolk StateNRN/a
7-Sepat Virginia Tech37-19.2
21-Sepat Virginia45-18.2
28-SepEast Carolina107-1.6
5-OctWestern Kentucky105-2.1
12-Octat Marshall67-14.6
19-Octat UAB91-11.5
26-OctFlorida Atlantic79-7.6
2-Novat FIU83-12.5
9-NovUTSA1193.8
23-Novat Middle Tennessee94-11.3
30-NovCharlotte1142.4

Average Projected Record: 4.3 wins, 7.7 losses (2.6 wins, 5.4 losses)