Here's a list of things you probably already know about Old Dominion football:
2) They're that what team moving up to the FBS, right?
10) What are we talking about again?
Now here's a list of things you're going to learn about Old Dominion football:
Old Dominion Monarchs 2013 Rewind
Last season was a transition year for the Monarchs playing as an FCS independent team. Out of all of the independents, Old Dominion had the best record at 8-4, only losing to schools at the FBS level (East Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, North Carolina). Since they were an independent, they weren't allowed to participate in the FCS playoffs.
Big Blue is Old Dominion's mascot. I'll tell you what, that thing is too damn adorable. In fact, he was the Capital One Mascot of the Year in 2010. It's just this big, friendly lion king (not Lion King, but a lion that's also a king). with a big ole crown in an ODU shirt. Personally, I think it's one of the cooler mascots out there.
Poor ODU. They don't have a long-lasting history within any conference to talk about. From 1941-2009, there was no football being played. Finally getting a team together in 2009 as an FCS independent team, they finally joined the Colonial Athletic Association in 2011. But they went back into being an FCS independent last year to transition themselves to the FBS level. They're finally settled in with Conference-USA, where they've never played a single game against any of the teams in there now.
They're ineligible for any postseason play this season. Dumb politics.
Last Bowl Appearance
The Monarchs have found themselves in the FCS Playoffs as an at-large bid while with the CAA, but no bowl games.
Bobby Wilder has been with the ODU program since 2007, where he spent the first two years trying to give the football program its rebirth. Under him, the Monarchs have had a 46-14 overall record, going to the FCS Playoffs in 2011 and 2012.
Five Key Players
Taylor Heinicke, QB
Cam Boyd, RB
Antonio Vaughn, WR
Andre Simmons, LB
Fellonte Misher, S
Heinicke is the leader of the Monarchs offense. In total offense, he accounted for 70 percent of the team's yardage with 4022 passing and 348 yards rushing (4370 total). He leads a pass-heavy offense that had 519 pass attempts with 401 rushing attempts in 2013.
His top returning receiver is Antonio Vaughn, who caught 60 passes for 843 yards (14.1 yards per reception) with nine touchdowns. Blair Roberts and Zach Pascal are also popular targets for Heinicke, who both had six touchdowns last season.
Cam Boyd didn't lead the Monarchs in rushing last year, but there's an argument that would say that Boyd was the best running back on the team. Led by Colby Goodwyn with 483 rushing yards, Boyd only had 33 less yards than that with 28 less carries. Boyd had five rushing touchdowns in 2013, along with running back Gerard Johnson and Heinicke.
First thing's first: Misher is the man.
Fellonte Misher ODU Football 2013 Highlights (via Jerica Carmichael)
Misher had a totally of 95 tackles (54 solo) with two interceptions for 49 yards, five pass breakups, seven passes deflected and a pair of fumble recoveries last season.
Linebacker Simmons was second on the team in tackles with 78 (49 solo). Alongside him will be Staton, who led the team with 10.5 sacks for 35 yards and was fourth on the team with 72 tackles.
Last year's kicker Jarod Brown, was 13-for-20 in field goals, leading the team with 103 points, but he is now trying to find a job in the NFL. This year's placekicker is unknown to me at this point.
Same can be said with their punting situation. Jake Walsh, from Australia, returned back home in December.
This might be a real test for Eastern Michigan's secondary. If these cornerbacks get burned one too many times, this could be a lot closer than a lot of fans are expecting. Even with that said, I feel very safe saying that EMU will come leave Norfolk with a win here, 28-18.