2022 Old Dominion Monarchs Preview

by Matt Fargo

Old Dominion Monarchs

2021-22 Season Record 6-7 (5-3 C-USA East) - 9-4-0 ATS - 5-8-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 10
Defense - 7

Overview

After going 1-11 in 2019, the lone win coming against Norfolk St. of the FCS by three points, Old Dominion scrapped the entire 2020 season because of the COVID pandemic and not much was expected with just 10 starters returning last season. The Monarchs started 1-6, another FCS victim, but they ran off five straight wins to become bowl eligible and while they did not put up much of a fight against Tulsa in the Myrtle Beach Bowl, it was a huge confidence boost for the program. Since entering the FBS, Old Dominion has gone 37-49, all in C-USA and now it makes the jump to the Sun Belt Conference for another fresh start. That 1-11 season cost head coach Bobby Wilder his job and Ricky Rahne took over and finally got to coach a game last season. There is experience in place with 17 starters back and a returning production ranking of No. 30 so the momentum can continue.

Offense

The offense was not great as it was extremely young but it did just enough down the stretch to win a bunch of games when needed. The Monarchs were No. 80 in total offense and No. 68 in scoring offense and that experience and momentum down the stretch should have them ready to make a leap. Quarterback time was split between Hayden Wolff and D.J. Mack, Jr. with Wolff being the main guy and better passer and Mack adding the running option to the offense. That stretch run solidified Wolff as the starter this season and he has two great weapons in wide receiver Ali Jennings III who had 1,066 yards and tight end Zack Kuntz who had 692 yards, both scoring five touchdowns. The running game is potent with Blake Watson after rushing for 1,112 yards and eight scores. They will be protected by an offensive line with four starters back that looks to cut down on sacks.

Defense

The defense was also pretty average but it too came together down the stretch as they allowed 22.2 ppg during that five-game winning streak and overall, the Monarchs finished No. 61 in total defense and No. 80 in scoring defense. There is not a lot of star power but experience pays off and there is a decent amount of that. The defensive line was stout against the run as it finished No. 26 in rushing defense and three starters are back including both inside guys. Losing the No. 1 tackler is never a good thing for a young team as linebacker Jordan Young had 93 stops and signed on with Tampa Bay but all is not lost as Ryan Henry and Jason Henderson are both back after combining for 153 tackles last season. The secondary was lit up pretty bad but again, a year of experience will prove vital as cornerback Tre Hawkins III led the team with 56 solo tackles and the safeties are solid.

2022 Season Outlook

Expectations are not high for Old Dominion nor should they be as a 2-17 two and a half year stumble was bailed out by a 5-1 run to close last season and while that push is big, it can only go so far. This is still a young team with learning to do and starting over in a new conference can be a challenge. Rahne did a great job during that 2020 offseason as he brought in talent where it was needed to build a foundation for the present and future. However, the schedule does not set up well for the former as they open with Virginia Tech at home then travel to East Carolina and Virginia. They host their first SBC game against Arkansas St. before Liberty. The three toughest conference games against Coastal Carolina, Georgia St. and Appalachian St. are all on the road. The O/U Win total is set at 4.5 and that is going to be a challenge to get to with such a brutal schedule in the way. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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