NORFOLK, Va. - ODU Head Coach Bobby Wilder met with the media today, below is a transcription of the press conference.
“Hello to all the 12th Monarchs out there in Monarch Nation. We are coming off a 66-10 win over Albany Saturday night; our 32nd consecutive sellout. It was a blue out, and it was an outstanding crowd. I am grateful, thank you 12th Monarchs as always.
We are now 3-2 and 3-0 at home. One of our quests this year is to be undefeated at home, which we have never done. We’re halfway there and hopefully we can keep that going this weekend. I’m very pleased with our improvement in all three phases. I felt like we got better as a team, on special teams, defense and offense Saturday night. We had 56 players that had the opportunity to contribute to this win, and that’s critical right now as we are trying to win now and also develop this team for the future.
To have 56 players able to play and get meaningful snaps in this game will go a long way in our development. Starting with special teams, we had two blocks. In this game we blocked a punt which led to a touchdown, by Eriq Lewis and we also blocked a field goal where Rashaad Coward got a piece of a field goal that eventually led to a score. It was great to see us get a couple blocks and the kids executing some things we were doing in special teams. We made all of our kicks, which I was excited with, and we continue to develop many guys on special teams.
Defensively this was a solid performance from our defense. Overall we competed. We played very physical. I thought one of the keys for us was we were very focused as a defense going into this game. The preparation last week and the planning, they did a great job getting themselves ready. We had 27 players that were involved on defense. We had a regular rotation going into this game as we continued to try and develop a solid two-deep and for those young guys to be playing as much as they’re playing right now. Our veteran guys played well in this game.
We had three more true freshmen that played in this game. Jude Brenya started at defensive end for Terrell Reid who was out with an injury. Jude played very well. Daquin Moore, safety, played really well in this game. Then Aaron Young got in the game a corner, so three more true freshman played and I’m please with all three of they’re performances. I should also add that Daquin Moore and Aaron Young were added to our special teams, both of those guys performed well on the “All Star” team. I felt like we responded to adversity this game. We keep using that word adversity around our defense, but early in this game we were up 7-0. We took the opening drive down the field and scored, and Albany came back and answered with a seven-play 82 yard drive for a touchdown. The critical play was a 55-yard touchdown pass where we had a blown coverage. We had a new guy, Malique Johnson playing his first college snaps at rover. We blow the coverage, miss a couple tackles, touchdown. We responded right after that. The next drive those guys went out on the field, Malique Johnson tips a pass and Fellonte Misher intercepts it. Then we’re off and running. For the rest of the game Albany ran 58 plays for a total of 240 yards and three points. So we responded from that first drive very well. The kids really bounced back after that.
This was an Albany team that had been averaging 400 yards and 25 points coming in. So to hold them to 320 yards total and 10 points, I was pleased with that. Offensively 66 points, 614 yards, 84 plays, we were 11-of-13 on third and fourth down. If you look at our last three games, our production on third down is really critical to keeping drives alive.
I feel like we can play better on offense than we are right now. It’s always about Old Dominion, its always about our improvement. When you look and see we had four dropped passes in the first half, we had some missed assignments, we had missed communication on protections and blitzes. That’s between the quarterback, the offensive line, and the running backs. We had a couple of five yard penalties on that first drive of the second half where we had two of our senior linemen jump offsides. We had D.J. Morell on the first one and pulled him out of the game. Then two plays later Jack Lowney jumps offsides and we pull him out of the game.
Brian Scott and our offensive staff are sending a very clear message to our guys, that even though we are performing well in terms of points, yardage, and productivity, we can play better and we are capable of playing better. All I need to do is pull back that video of Maryland where we only scored 10 points and had three turnovers to remind ourselves we are playing at a high level of competition. On offense we need to be more productive and we can’t have any more breakdowns within. With that said 26 players were involved in this game on offense. We’re developing our backup ones. I’m very pleased when I see David Washington go in the game and protect the football and find ways to get first downs. We saw the entire backup offensive line get to play. So that’s critical right now as we develop our football team. Let me be clear that its not all just about our defense right now we’re developing, it’s also offense and our special teams.
Liberty is 3-2, coached by Turner Gill. They’re two losses, one is to Kent State which is a 1-A team in the MAC and the other was to Richmond which was a close game they lost on the road. Richmond is the No. 20 team in the country in FBS and is someone we are familiar with in the CAA. Offensively this is an explosive group. They average 37 points and 400 yards. Defensively they have a veteran group right now, they’ve got 18 seniors in their 2 deep. They give up 290 yards and 15.8 points a game. Its a contrast of teams when you look at how inexperienced we are and this liberty team that has 32 seniors and juniors in the two-deep. They will be well coached and I don’t expect them to be intimidated by this environment. They’re a quality football team and I think they’re the best overall team we have played since East Carolina and Maryland. I say that talking about their defense, offense and special teams. All three phases of what they have as a team, will be what we are working on this week in practice. We have to get better in all three phases.
How much better can you get on offense?
“I feel like we can play faster. Also we can limit the penalties and protection. We’re seeing a lot of specialty defenses. Teams are doing they’re homework on us. Particularly what Maryland did. People are studying that and showing us those looks. We have to do a much better job of studying what has hurt us. When they get into the game the communication has to get better. So that’s the most critical area besides a lack of focus. The players have to handle that, and we have to do a better job as coaches making sure they understand what the communication pieces are.”
Are you facing more specialty defense this year?
“Not a lot different, other than what Maryland did. East Carolina played their defense and Maryland had a couple things specially made for us. There’s only so many things you can do because we are so fast.”
How much do you plan for Liberty and Head Coach Turner Gill?
“We’ve gone back to look at last years tapes. There’s a little difference between this year and last year. We’ve studied everyone’s background and what they do. The focus is on their quarterback and what they’ve shown schematically.”
Asked about being biggest game on opponents schedules
“I talk to them about the fact that our atmosphere here is so good. With 32 consecutive sellouts players get excited in this atmosphere. Kind of like when we went to East Carolina, we were excited to play in that atmosphere. I tell my team not to take this for granted because this is such a great place to play.”
Asked about punter competition
“It could have been either one of them based on field position. If we needed a sky kick it would have been Jake (Walsh) but a long punt back in our own end zone we would have used Joe (Pulisic). We’re just trying to develop both of those guys right now. Hopefully we can keep them on the sideline cheering for their teammates.”
Asked about injuries
“Terrell Reid from all indications will be back next week. Nate Barnes is still questionable with his knee injury. He wants to play, but we want to make sure he’s healed before we let him back on the field.”
“Thank you 12th Monarchs. We will be striping the stadium Saturday night at home against liberty. Look forward to seeing you there.”