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THE COLUMN: Virginia vs Old Dominion Complete Preview

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Remember when Tech lost against ODU?

TIME: 7:00 PM (EST)

DATE: September 21st, 2019

LOCATION: Scott Stadium | Charlottesville, VA

HOW TO WATCH: ESPN2


The Lowdown

We all know about last year’s historic upset. Old Dominion beating a No. 13 ranked Virginia Tech team was shocking, to say the least. While Virginia fans relished in that moment, a similar situation faces the Hoos this year. The Cavaliers are coming in ranked No. 21 and are favorites, big favorites at that, to beat the Monarchs. The Hoos are playing at home (unlike Tech last year), which should provide a substantial advantage.

As the Monarchs proved last year, they are not a team to overlook. Head Coach Bobby Wilder has been at the helm for 11 years through the transition from the FCS to playing in their first ever FBS bowl game in 2016. Wilder has amassed a 77-46 record in that time.

Obviously Virginia should have the advantage in almost every category against Old Dominion. However, one can’t help but wonder about the various larger questions at hand and if those may inadvertently impact the game. The Cavaliers haven’t been ranked in back-to-back games since 2007. Then there’s next week: a huge matchup against a ranked Notre Dame team which has the potential to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) game in the last decade for UVa. If Virginia were to win that game...the team could be looking at a top 10 ranking.

Looking ahead could be an issue though. This week’s game is a classic “trap” game and Coach Bronco Mendenhall will undoubtedly be preparing his players to not overlook this matchup. For a fanbase that knows all too well how an epic upset can feel when expectations are high, this game will be cautiously watched with all the hopes for a big blowout.


The Statistics

from Danny Neckel

ODU’s offense might be good (in the FCS)

Category UVA Category ODU
Category UVA Category ODU
Scoring Defense 39th (18.3) Scoring Offense 108th (20.5)
Yards Defense 16th (261.7) Yards Offense 116th (308)
Passing Defense 36th (183) Passing Offense 123rd (140)
Team Sacks 2nd (4.6) Sacks Allowed 95th (3)
Rushing Defense 16th (78.7) Rushing Offense 72nd (168)

Hoo’s Hoo?

Virginia Cavaliers

Wayne Taulapapa, RB

Second-year Wayne Taulapapa had a great game last week. Offensive coordinator Robert Anae relied on him heavily in the red zone and it paid off. Taulapapa scored three touchdowns while also picking up 58 yards on 18 carries. Last week, we highlighted running back Mike Hollins as a potential player to watch but it’s clear that Taulapapa was the favorite back...for at least this week.

Virginia Cavaliers

Joey Blount, S

Against Pittsburgh this year, Blount registered two sacks and a game-changing interception. He was chosen to “break the rock” that week for his efforts. The third-year has proven to be an integral part of the Hoos’ defensive secondary and has amassed 21 tackles so far on the season. Alongside Brenton Nelson and De’Vante Cross, Virginia’s safeties core is as strong as ever.

Virginia Cavaliers

Hasise Dubois, WR

Virginia’s wide receivers were somewhat of a question coming into the season. Fourth-year Hasise Dubois showed last year that he could be a steady presence for Bryce Perkins and has solidified that position this year. After catching 52 passes for 578 yards last season, he’s well on track this year so far with 14 receptions for 170 yards. Dubois has improved his receptions yards week-by-week and, last week, he had a career high 75 reception yards.


Old Dominion Monarchs

Stone Smartt, QB

I’m not quite sure what is going on with these double consonant names. First it was Ffrench on Pittsburgh and now its Smartt...Anyway, after incumbent quarterback Blake LaRussa decided to forgo his Senior year to attend seminary school, it left the position wide open. JUCO transfer Stone Smartt from Riverside City College earned that starting position this year for the Monarchs. The mobile quarterback has so far passed for 280 yards and rushed for 98, with four total touchdowns.

Old Dominion Monarchs

Lala Davis, RB

Redshirt freshman Lala Davis carries the majority of the traditional running load for the Monarchs. This season Davis has rushed for 131 yards and four touchdowns. ODU also uses senior running back Kesean Strong, their main rusher last year. Strong has rushed for 77 yards and one touchdown so far. Look for the Monarchs to deploy a mix of Davis, Strong, and Smartt on the ground throughout the evening.

Old Dominion Monarchs

Eric Kumah, WR

Eric Kumah has been on the losing side of the Virginia Tech and Old Dominion matchup two years in a row. Last year, he played for the Hokies and has since transferred to play for the Monarchs. Kumah was Tech’s second-leading receiver last year with 42 catches for 559 yards and seven touchdowns in 12 games. This year, he is the de-facto No. 1 receiver for the Monarchs and figures to be targeted heavily each game.


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