Through Harry mini
LYNCHBURG – Let’s start by stating the obvious. The Old Dominion University football team did not perform well on Saturday night at Liberty.
Defensively, the Monarchs did not tackle or cover receivers well. Offensively, they neither passed nor caught well. They had too many penalties, including one for roughing up the kicker who blocked a comeback in the first half.
But let’s also keep things in perspective. Liberty University is among the best teams in college football. ESPN ranked the Flames 26th in the countrye better on Sunday.
Liberty has most of the players on the team that was 10-1 last season, beat Virginia Tech and Syracuse, knocked down Coastal Carolina in a bowl game and whose only loss was a point loss to North Carolina State.
At Malik Willis, the Flames have one of the best quarterbacks in the country and receivers who have made some catch-worthy catches on Saturday night at Williams Stadium.
So the fact that ODU fell to the Flames, 45-17, isn’t all that surprising, nor should it deter Monarch’s fan base. Liberty was a 26 point favorite and won by 28 points.
Lest you be reminded, and many of you are doing it from what I saw on social media on Saturday night, coach Ricky rahne came to Norfolk 22 months ago to rebuild this program from scratch.
ODU hadn’t seen a winning season since 2016. The Monarchs were 1-11 in 2019 and that was largely because they hadn’t recruited well.
Liberty is a team of veterans. The Flames had 12 senior starters, including an offensive line that came back intact.
ODU, meanwhile, has 52 freshmen and 16 freshmen in red shirts, making 68 freshmen in total. The Monarchs have nine seniors, the sixth least in the country.
ODU is one of three FBS shows that didn’t air last season, meaning for almost everyone on the list Saturday’s game was only the third in two years.
Rahne is a first-year head coach and his coaching staff is coaching together for the first time.
Now you get the point. ODU (1-2) is rebuilding itself, and it takes time to rebuild.
I’m not saying this team won‘t be good this year. It’s going to be good. He will win matches.
But Saturday’s game took place on the road against what could be the best team ODU will play this season.
That said, security Joe joe headen said the Monarchs didn’t have a good week of training last week. And when you don’t train well, you don’t play well.
Frankly, that was a lesson for Rahne’s young team.
Rahne continues to preach to his players that they have to go 1-0 every day and 1-0 every game. Focus on improving yourself today, every day.
“We have to earn the right to win matches in training,” said Rahne. âWe have to train and play with great intensity and passion.
âI can’t look back this week and say I did a great job either. Certainly it wasn’t just the kids. The whole organization didn’t succeed tonight. “
Rahne said there are no moral wins and that he and his players go into every game hoping to win. He made no apologies on Saturday night. He never does.
And that’s how you rebuild a program. You recruit well, you prepare and you expect to win and ultimately you will.
Liberty (3-0) has excellent facilities, including a $ 29 million indoor soccer training facility, and some ODU players were asked what they thought of all that was glitzy on campus.
i will leave the end tight Zack Kuntz, the Penn State transfer that marked his first career touchdown at Liberty, tells you what really matters to college football players when they’re signed up.
âYou can go to a ton of different places across the country,â Kuntz said. âYou can go to the Group of 5 schools, the Power 5 schools, and everyone has some nice shiny things.
“But 45 pounds is the same here as it is anywhere else.
“They’ve got some cool stuff here for sure. But that’s it, it looks cool. All that matters are the guys you have in the locker room.”
Kuntz played at Penn State, so he saw the best. And he calls the players in the locker room of the ODU his brothers.
Liberty arrives at ODU next season, and the Monarchs return to Lynchburg in 2023.
ODU will be a much more experienced team in both games.
Of Liberty’s 44 best players, 15 are seniors, and Willis, although a junior, is surely heading to the NFL. Almost everyone comes back for the monarchs.
In defense, eight of nine linemen, three of four linebackers and seven of 11 defensive backs return. On offense, nine of ten linemen, three running backs, 12 of 13 receivers and two quarterbacks are back.
The next time these teams meet ODU will be much better, playing in front of their fans and hungry for a little return on their investment.
For now, the Monarchs are aiming for a 1-0 record against Buffalo (1-2), which fell to Coastal Carolina’s No.16, 28-25, last week, and head to SB Ballard Stadium on Saturday. . The Bulls, who also lost to Nebraska, are better than their record.
They were 6-1 last season, their only loss being in the Mid-American Conference Championship game, and they beat Marshall 17-10 at the Camellia Bowl.
It should be a special night for ODU fans. The Monarchs will wear Hudson Blue for the first time. It’s the sky blue that ODU sports teams wore decades ago and is named after longtime sports information Carol Hudson.
Shortly after arriving at ODU, Rahne enthusiastically endorsed the idea of ââwearing Hudson Blue.
“Our players are thrilled with it and it should be,” said Rahne. “It’s a good deal. Everyone on our campus has worn them before and they look good.”
Headen said players have been eagerly awaiting him since his announcement last spring.
âIt’s really exciting,â he said. “I had to wear it once for a photoshoot. I feel like the fans are going to feed on it.”
And help the Monarchs go 1-0.
Minium has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize during his 39 years at the Virginian-Pilot and has won 27 state and national writing awards. He covers ODU athletics for odusports.com Follow him on Twitter @Harry_MiniumODU, Instagram @ hbminium1 or email [email protected]