Hilltoppers welcome Wood Selig, Monarchs for third home game


Since 2011, if a Hilltopper team has been struggling, they’ll look at a team that’s, oh I don’t know, riddled with injuries or on a three game losing streak, or better yet, a team that’s not only riddled with injuries but on a three game losing streak, and think “what a great week to snap out of this slump, let’s right this ship and get back to it.”

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While, yes, that’s exactly the case for Old Dominion – losses to MTSU, Marshall and UTEP before a bye week last week, and eight players who are questionable to play – it almost seems as if it isn’t out of the question, and is probably the more likely scenario, that it’s the


who are the ones eyeing this game as one to get their season back on track and get back to .500 on the year.

It’s no secret that the Hilltoppers have had defensive problems this year, and it’s probably the one thing holding people back from saying today is a WKU win. And, yes, the offense only had 99 yards in the second half last week, 24 points is more than enough to win a football game, with or without anything in the second half.

The defense has a tall task on their hand with first and foremost quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who has thrown 160 passes for 1815 yards and 18 touchdowns (eight interceptions also accompany those numbers), and is a four year starer for the Monarchs, and is a Payton Trophy winner, the FCS’ eqiuvalent of the Heisman.

Heinicke has three guys he likes to target a lot – Zach Pascal, Antonio Vaughn and David Washington. Pascal enters this afternooon with 37 catches for 509 yards and five touchdowns, Vaughn has 31 receptions for 433 yards and seven touchdowns to his credit while Washington has hauled 21 catches for 278 yards and two scores. ODU has two more 100+ yard receivers, in Nick England and Melvin Vaughn, both on 10 catches but each only have one touchdown each.

The big worry could come from the backfield, as the Monarchs have two 400-yard rushers in Gerard Johnson (88 carries for 450 yards and only a single touchdown) and Ray Lawry (49 carries, 403 yards and seven touchdowns). While it’s really been the passing game that has torched the Tops’ on the defensive side of the ball, big plays have been run against WKU, and the Tops have to limit the big plays, especially when you have to scheme against two 400-yard rushers – something their used to having at their disposal.

On offense, if the Tops want to have success, they have to run the ball better. The inclusion of Ace Wales into the running game more should have opened up a world of capabilities for Leon Allen (127 carries for 528 yards, five touchdowns through six games), but last week against FAU, the Tops combined failed to run for over 100 yards. However, we could very well see Allen go over 1000 total yards from scrimmage today, as he has 711 total yards (rushing and receiving) on 144 touches.

While Heinicke has a pair of favorite targets, Brandon Doughty has a whole corps of favorite targets, and it’ll be vital to get everyone lining up at wide receiver involved early and often. Jared Dangerfield (34), Taywan Taylor (30) and Willie McNeal (30) all have at least 30 catches this season, while Antwane Grant isn’t far behind with 28. (Those four receivers also have combined for 14 of Doughty’s 19  touchdown receptions.)

Again, even with the 99 yards of offense over the last two quarters for WKU, the worry is still on defense. We learned from post-practice quotes that making adjustments defensively aren’t the problem. The problem comes with the execution of those adjustments, which has lead to the Tops blowing 10+ point leads in three of their four losses.

So, what do you think will happen today? Both teams have a lot of fire power, and it very well might again come down to whoever can make a defensive stop.