2014 ODU Preview: What You Need To Know

Posted Jun 1, 2014

Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Old Dominion

2014 Old Dominion Preview

What You Need To Know...

- 2014 Old Dominion Preview 
2014 Depth Chart & Unit Rankings To Come This Summer

What You Need To Know About The Offense: The Monarch offense is ready for the escalation in competition that'll come with playing in Conference USA. Old Dominion returns the core of an attack that scored 508 points in 12 games a season ago. The ringleader for one final year will be QB Taylor Heinicke, whose playmaking ability will cause fits for defenses that have yet to see him play. Rejoining Heinicke in the huddle will be last year's four best receivers, who combined for 30 touchdown catches, and two of the top three running backs. The Monarch will be capable of denting opposing defenses with both balance and big-play capabilities. The one area that the Old Dominion staff will need to address in August is an offensive line that's replacing three starters. The Monarchs did some juggling of personnel in the spring to find the right combination. Above all else, though, they need the holdovers to remain healthy and newcomers, like rookie Darius Garcia and JUCO transfer Raul Martinez to cement spots on the two-deep

What You Need To Know About The Defense: If Old Dominion endures an inauspicious debut as a full-time FBS member, the defense will be the likely culprit. The Monarchs gave up more than 400 points in 2013, including 52 to East Carolina, 47 to Maryland and 80 to North Carolina. This unit will be inevitably better, sure, but it's still not ready to handle improved competition on a week-in, week-out basis. The encouraging news for coordinator Rich Nagy is that his defensive line is deeper than it was a year ago, and competition throughout the two-deep appears to be bringing out the best in everyone. With few job being safe, save for maybe DT Rashaad Coward and SS Fellonte Misher, the staff has seen one-time reserves pushing hard for stating gigs in the fall. Redshirt freshman NT Bummi Rotimi, sophomore LB Kanyia Anderson and sophomore FS Rob Thompson, in particular, have performed so far in the offseason as if they plan on being a part of ODU's defensive solution in 2014.

Players You Need To Know

1. QB Taylor Heinicke
How badly would Virginia or Virginia Tech want a player of Heinicke's caliber these days? The 6-1, 200-pound dual-threat will begin his senior year with more career passing yards and touchdown throws than any other active FBS quarterback. Heinicke is a classic improviser from the pocket, excelling when he's forced to make things happen on the move. In 2013, he completed 70% of his passes for 4,022 yards and 33 touchdowns, while rushing for 348 yards and another five scores.

2. WR Larry Pinkard
Heinicke is the undisputed leading man in Norfolk. Pinkard is his right-hand man. The 6-0, 190-pound senior went from solid in his first two seasons to downright dominant in 2013 by catching a Monarch-high 68 passes for 1,020 yards and nine touchdowns. Pinkard is a fluid all-around athlete, with the work-ethic to parlay one more productive season into a chance to keep playing on Sundays.

3. WR Antonio Vaughan
The Monarchs have a simple blueprint for employing Vaughan. They want to get him the ball in space, and they want to do it as frequently as possible. While just 5-8 and 175 pounds, he's electrifying in the open field, often making defenders miss with a quick cut or a sudden stop-and-start. Dangerous in myriad different ways, Vaughan caught 60 passes for 843 yards and nine touchdowns, and rushed for 92 yards and another score.

4. LB Richie Staton
Staton was one of the silver linings in an otherwise dreadful campaign for the defense. The Hampton, Va. native fit in at once for the Monarchs, starting 11 games at middle linebacker, a tough spot for a true freshman. He improved as the season unfolded to finish with 72 tackles, a team-high 10.5 stops for loss and four sacks. Staton is a thick 6-1, 240-pounder, with the solid base to anchor the run defense for the next three years.

5. SS Fellonte Misher
Misher is ODU's defensive enforcer, a role he relishes playing. He enters his junior year as one of the Monarchs' most physical players, patrolling the field with reckless abandon. The 6-2, 205-pound power puncher was at times a liability in coverage in 2013, but he compensated with a team-best 95 tackles, two interceptions, seven passes defended and a pair of fumble recoveries.

6. WR Blair Roberts
Although he missed a pair of games in 2013, Roberts still finished third on the Monarchs with 46 receptions for 560 yards and six touchdowns. The 6-2, 192-pound senior is a steady intermediate range receiver, with the long arms and the leaping ability to make a living playing above undersized defensive backs. Roberts was late to the sport of football, and he has room for improvement with his routes and his hands.

7. WR Zach Pascal
In Norfolk, you can be a part-time starter, yet still amass solid numbers. Despite coming off the bench on occasion, Pascal managed to total 41 receptions for 434 yards and six touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. At 6-2 and 207 pounds, he has the kind of tough-to-miss frame that can bail out a scrambling quarterback. After spending last fall proving he belongs, Pascal will spend this offseason honing the finer points of his game.

8. DE Terrell Reid
Last season's relocation of Reid from linebacker to defensive end has so far been a shrewd move by the Monarchs staff. Reid responded to his new role by starting 10 games and making 31 tackles, 6.5 stops for loss and three sacks as a rookie. While the sophomore has grown to 6-2 and 260 pounds to better handle the rigors of run defense, he's still quick enough to apply pressure in opposing backfields.

9. CB Reggie Owens
Owens begins his Old Dominion finals as the veteran of a defensive backfield that needs as much guidance and leadership as possible. The 6-0, 190-pounder has started 13 straight games, including all 12 in 2013, when he notched 28 tackles, an interception, a sack and two forced fumbles. Owens must positive changes for a leaky Monarchs pass defense that yielded a whopping 13.7 yards per reception last season.

10. C Josh Mann
Mann will be the anchor of an O-line in charge of protecting franchise QB Taylor Heinicke. The 6-2, 310-pound senior had started 23 consecutive games at the pivot before tearing his ACL against Idaho last Nov. 5. Although Mann was able to jog during the spring, he won't partake in contact drills until the summer. The Monarchs need No. 60 back in pads, because their shotgun formation mandates that snaps back to Heinicke are clean and uneventful.

- 2014 Old Dominion Preview