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Old Dominion Monarchs vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles football preview

Minus a defensive player of critical importance, can Eastern Michigan defeat its Conference USA foe?

Sophomore back Ray Lawry is back in the Monarch backfield and rearing to go.
Sophomore back Ray Lawry is back in the Monarch backfield and rearing to go.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The high-powered Old Dominion offense was acclimated to tearing apart defenses over the last few years. Even last season, its first in the FBS, the Monarchs averaged 32.7 points per contest. But against who would you guess ODU had it's second-lowest scoring output of the season? That's right, these EMU Eagles.

What was it that allowed ODU to score only 17? Whatever it was, limiting the Monarchs to a below 20-point total is no small task. With senior quarterback Taylor Heinicke in the midst of yet another fine year in a legendary career in Norfolk, the Eagles held the Monarchs to just 187 yards through the air and only picked up two more first downs than EMU (16-14).

EMU had a case of the fumbles in this game last year, putting the ball on the turf five times and losing it twice. It took the offense until its 11th drive of the game to put points on the board and even then it scored just a field goal.

But let's fast-forward. The Factory is in it's second season of existence. EMU comes in feeling a bit shaky after learning of the injury that knocks out its best athlete, Pat O'Connor, for the season. Luckily, the linebacking corps returns depth with the likes of Great Ibe, Ike Spearman and Anthony Zappone.

The Monarchs might play a grinding style of play again this year, as it seemed to work for them down home stretch of the 2014 season. Redshirt freshman Shuler Bentley steps into the limelight at the quarterback position knowing fully well what it means to be a gunslinger. In high school, the two-time South Carolina high school Gatorade POTY threw for 13,000+ yards in three full seasons at quarterback, and steps into an offense that has thrown the ball all over the field consistently.

Returning sophomore back Ray Lawry, who scooted for 947 yards and 16 touchdowns, will be the feature back in this offense. ODU will be content to run the ball and control possession, and that will certainly be the case against EMU, which could once again result in a low-scoring contest.

A young and experienced line ODU d-line will look to put pressure on EMU quarterback Reggie Bell, and will attempt to stop the duo of Dustin Creel and Darius Jackson, who will look to rack up some impressive first game stats. Maybe someone will emerge from the young crew of newbies for the Eagles in this first contest. The offensive output will be needed after the loss of someone like O'Connor on the defensive side.

From EMU athletics, when these two take the field on Saturday, they will combine to have just 22 total seniors. The Monarchs go to Rynearson Stadium (THE FACTORY) and play its best defensive game of the season like it did against the Eagles last season? It's game week. It's about time to find out.