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Old Dominion-Marshall Analysis: What Went Wrong For the Monarchs?

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We have fun with odd geometric shapes, video and pictures to spotlight some of the issues. Because all legitimate media sources do it this way. We think.

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Before we get too far into this, this is pretty much my first time doing something like this, so I hope (maybe) that with a little practice I can be as good, if not better, than the guys on TV getting paid to do this.

One of the primary reasons behind the Marshall Thundering Herd's big day on the ground Saturday was the overall inability of the Old Dominion Monarchs' D-line to adjust to Marshall getting good push from their o-line—opening up gaps and providing the running backs with several outlets to get good yardage—as well as that awareness to conduct blocks downfield to take the linebackers out of the picture. That, of course, is coupled with the fact that you have an FBS offensive line going up against what basically amounts to FCS athletes up front on defense.

Let's take this run early in the game by Devon Johnson. Note the matchup: the Herd's left tackle, Blake Brooks, and left guard Michael Selby, against the Monarchs' Andrew Everett, who plays in the team's "Stud" (hybrid LB/D-line) position.

Selby/Brooks vs. Everett

Here, we see Selby gets just enough push on Everett to open a lane on the left side for Johnson to run (A). Johnson sees this and is already adjusting his route accordingly (B). Meanwhile we see Brooks with his sights set on the middle linebacker in order to attempt to block him off and open up the lane further (C).

Breakdown (O-line)
Brooks is able to stop the MLB, with Johnson laying down a little stiff arm for good measure.

Johnson run

You also see WR Craig Wilkins get involved in the play with a nice block up top which allows Johnson to get into the backfield and maximize the run even further. Tommy Shuler also gets into the action with a good block of his own.

Wilkins
The end result: a 35-yard run by Johnson.

This next example isn't so much on the defensive line, but it's still worth pointing out to demonstrate that ODU still has a few years of fresh, FBS-ready athletes to go to really be counted on as a legitimate contender in Conference USA. Here we see Remi Watson in the backfield and the Herd's right guard versus the Monarchs' left end at the bottom. Strong safety Christian Byrum is off screen.

The hope is that the safety is able to get to the ball carrier in this particular play (even if he allows a few yards, maybe two or three, it's OK). You'll see that Byrum has a good start and sprints downfield in pursuit. However, Watson already has a beat on him and is able to get past him for the good gain. Not sure if that's a lack of awareness or inability to quickly adapt to Watson's path of attack, but in any event, the freshman gets hung out to dry. To his credit, he is able to spot the run early and breaks from his position before it fully develops, but isn't in position to make the tackle.

That's just a bit of what I saw. Obviously, there isn't time to go over the entire game like this, but it's things like what I've shown that are hurting the Monarchs. They're a couple of years away from being a 100% FBS class, and as time goes on the unit should be able to get better, but for now they're going to take their lumps as a new team playing at the upper division.