Another week, another loss for the Old Dominion Monarchs. On the plus side, at least they were able to stay within striking distance of the UTEP Miners before eventually succumbing and dropping a 42-35 game in which it was the home team able to make the big plays at the end.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to pound out the usual postgame recap (sorry!) so we'll push more toward an analysis angle this time around and spotlight three observations (plus one) from the game.
1. Rushing defense. ODU gave up 313 yards on the ground to the Miners on Saturday, down from 354 allowed to Marshall a week prior. Aaron Jones had 103 and Josh Bell and Nathan Jeffrey had 146 yards and four touchdowns combined (Bell had three). Ironically, it was the Miners' receiving game that ultimately gave them the win as Autrey Golden hauled in two late scores that turned a 28-28 tie with four minutes left into a 14-point advantage. The Monarchs have allowed 947 yards on the ground (an average of 315.6 yards) over a span of the last three games. A total of 67 teams in FBS have allowed less than a total of 947 yards over the course of the entire season. (I checked.)
2. Third down defense. UTEP was 10 of 16 on third down. That's 62.5%. You can't expect to win football games if you can't get the offense off the field on third down. It's another issue that has plagued the Monarchs throughout the season: they have allowed a 55.3% conversion rate on third down (57 of 103), worst in FBS.
3. Does Bobby Wilder believe in kicking field goals deep in opponents' territory? Fourth and 3 at the UTEP 25, trailing 14-7 in the second quarter, and the Monarchs go for it and miss. I know, UTEP scored anyway, but it's OK to take the points. Sometimes. (Ricky Segers has attempted three field goals all year, making two. His long is 26.)
Bonus: Ray Lawry is a pretty decent player at running back. Thirteen carries, 117 yards and two touchdowns to put him up to 403 yards and seven touchdowns for the season. The freshman looks like he'll have a bright future ahead of him at ODU.