Old Dominion (0-1, 0-0 C-USA) vs. FIU (0-1, 0-0 C-USA)
Date/Time: Saturday, September 8th, 2018. 7:30 PM
TV: beIN Sports (Mike Gleason & Brett Romberg)
Radio: WAXY 790 The Ticket (A.J. Ricketts & Kenny Kelly)/ ODU Sports Radio Network 94.1 WVSP-FM
Location: Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium, Norfolk, VA
Betting Line: Pick Em’ O/U 57
All-Time Series Record: ODU leads 3-1
FIU will take the field with heavy hearts just two days after losing two of its players in a senseless drive-by shooting.
Starting running back Anthony Jones and reserve left guard Mershawn Miller both suffered non life-threatening injuries after being shot Thursday afternoon.
Both players are expected to make full recoveries.
The Panthers lose not only a talented back in Jones who scored twice last week vs Indiana, but a veteran leader for an offense still trying to figure out who its full-time starting quarterback is.
In FIU’s 38-28 loss to Indiana their biggest issue were turnovers.
While Indiana only scored once off of a turnover in the Jonathan Crawford pick-six, the other two abruptly halted promising FIU drives.
Head Coach Butch Davis reiterated that the quarterback rotation will continue until one player pulls ahead, so expect to see both James Morgan and Christian Alexander.
The FIU running game was as good as advertised and while they won’t have Jones, Napoleon Maxwell, Shawndarrius Phillips and D’Vonte Price are more than talented enough to fill in.
They’ll look to establish the ground game again vs Old Dominion who gave up 167 yards against FIU last year and 238 in their opener against Liberty.
For the Panthers on defense last week was a mixed bag of sorts.
Freshman safety Dorian Hall had an interception and Sage Lewis had a monster game recording 18 tackles. But the unit has to do a better job of getting off the field on third down.
“We’ve got to get better at stopping the run, a lot of IU’s third down conversions came from third and short,” said Davis on his weekly show.
Old Dominion comes in after being blown out 52-10 by a Liberty program who were making their FBS debut.
“Confidence is shook in everybody and that’s my job as the head coach to get them back,” said ODU Head Coach Bobby Wilder. Quarterback Steven Williams will look to bounce back after having a sub-par game, going 14-30 for 132 yards passing last week.
The Monarchs will look to continue their win streak against FIU having won the previous two match-ups.
Williams had the best game of his collegiate career against FIU last season. A week after his 18th birthday, he threw for 240 yards and two TD’s in a 37-30 win for the Monarchs.
“Williams is electric with his legs, has a big time and isn’t afraid to push the ball downfield,” said Davis.
There’s no two ways about it, the Panther offense needs a fast start to establish their confidence.
An issue that hurt FIU last week was ending up in third and long situations early in the ballgame. The positive is that they put up 28 points and the quarterbacks are still looking to find their rhythm.
For Old Dominion, the game will come down to the play of it’s two stars in Steven Williams and Oshane Ximines, plus how well can they ward off the talented FIU defensive line.