Returns to homepage

ODU Monarchs Offensive Scouting Report

By Rob Trimber | August 28
Football Hezekiah Grimsley Old Dominion 2019
Receiver Hezekiah Grimsley makes a one-handed catch over Old Dominion's Geronda Hall for a 9-yard touchdown from 2019 match-up, via HokieSport.

It is a new season and much has changed in the 12 months since Virginia Tech last took on ODU. A disappointing 3-9 season for head coach Ricky Rahne of ODU in his 3rd year in the role has forced a revamping of the offense. ODU lost several players to the transfer portal including starting QB, Hayden Wolff, and now Hokie wide receiver, Ali Jennings III. In all, the Monarchs are returning only 4 starters on the offensive side of the ball. Head coach Rahne has also implemented the Spread Option scheme this offseason in an attempt to re-tool a rushing attack that only averaged 55 yards per game last year. With that, and a few transfers at key positions, ODU is hoping to overcome heavy roster turnover.

Returning Starters and Transfer Players

ODU is only returning 4 starters on offense. Those players are wide receivers, Javon Harvey and Jordan Bly, along with center and right guard, Xavier Black and Leroy Thomas. So, the offensive line will have 3 new starters including 2 transfers, Michael Flores (Dartmouth) and Chris Chernak Jr. (Grambling State). Considering there are 3 new starters, two of which are coming from lower tier programs, it may be a work-in-progress for the ODU offensive line. This could be detrimental for a team looking to run the ball more effectively. The Monarchs also infused their backfield with transfer players in RB, Kadarius Calloway (East Mississippi CC), and QB Grant Wilson (Fordham). Grant Wilson is a very different QB from Hayden Wolff, who the Hokies saw last year. Wolff was a pure pocket passer and relatively immobile. Wilson has the speed and the arm to run the spread option. It will be a very different attack from what the Virginia Tech defense faced last season. Aside from Wilson, it is hard to know what to expect from the rest of the offense as they are mostly unproven transfers or underclassmen replacing starters who left.

The Scheme: Spread Option

Since there is not much film out there on this specific ODU offense, it is best to go off of previous iterations of the spread option. The most successful examples of the spread option offense are Oregon with Marcus Mariota and Florida with Tim Tebow. With these examples in mind, Virginia Tech will likely see multiple running backs in the back field in a variety of shotgun and pistol formations. This applies the same triple option principles that we see Navy and Army run, except ODU will spread the field with multiple wide receivers in formation. From this look, ODU will run zone blocking with an option to keep for the QB and possibly pitch to a running back or throw to a receiver running a bubble screen (triple option/RPO). From there, ODU will look to pull the safeties down to stop the run and screens. This will allow their receivers to get vertical and win deep balls.

Defensive Keys to Victory

The most important principle when facing any offense, but especially an option offense, is assignment discipline. The defensive ends need to keep contain on Grant Wilson. Force Wilson to give the ball off on the option and when he does keep it, hit him and hit him hard. Make him feel the pain so that by about halfway through the second quarter, he does not even want to carry the ball. This will make him pitch it early or just give it to the running back. This offseason, Brent Pry has raved about how athletic the Hokies linebackers are. Their lateral speed will be put to the test in this matchup. If they stay disciplined, that speed will show up and show out. The linebackers will have to have a big night if Virginia Tech wants to shut down the run and screen game. Their sideline to sideline speed will be crucial in stopping quick RPOs and triple option pitch plays. If the defensive ends keep Grant Wilson in check and the linebackers track down the ball well, the Hokies should have a big night on defense. The key is to stay disciplined.