BOCA RATON – Flying high off a 38-20 victory over MTSU, FAU travels to Norfolk, Va., to face a rested ODU team coming off a bye week.
Off to a 2-2 start on the year, Old Dominion begins its Conference USA schedule against FAU – usually an opponent the Monarchs face at the end of the season.
ODU has had a rough last couple games against ACC teams North Carolina and Virginia Tech. The Monarchs are looking to improve with a fresh face on the offense. Starting quarterback Steven Williams, a freshman, is the second youngest player to start in a FBS game. At 17 years and 10 months, he is the youngest starter in the FBS this year. This will be his second game as the Monarchs primary signal caller.
FAU can take advantage of the young starter if they can get pressure on him. He is only one of seven true freshman starters at quarterback in the FBS.
The last time ODU played FAU, the Monarchs, who won 10 games last season, were cracking the AP Top 25.
THE FILE: ODU (2-2, 0-0 C-USA) vs. FAU (2-3, 1-0 C-USA)
THE SERIES: ODU leads the series 2-1, with the road team winning all three contests.
LAST MEETING: ODU 42, FAU 24 (2016)
ODU OFFENSE: Like most C-USA teams, the Monarchs run a read option spread. This means every play, whether it’s a designed run and or play action pass, there is usually a decision to be made by the quarterback. ODU has a mobile quarterback in Williams and in the past that type of signal caller has given FAU fits. Look for Williams to try to do the same.
Offensive Players to Watch
- 14 Steven Williams Jr., QB: Against North Carolina, Williams threw for two touchdowns after entering the game in the second quarter. Virginia Tech limited him to 85 passing yards and eight completions on 26 attempts.
- 7 Travis Fulgham, Jr., WR: The leading receiver for the Monarchs and caught six passes vs. UNC for 102 yards. With his 6-foot-3 stature, he’s a big target for the young quarterback.
ODU DEFENSE: The Monarchs run a 4-3 base. Like Navy, ODU has a special position – the “stud”. The stud is basically a down linebacker who will rush the quarterback but can also drop back in coverage. Against FAU he could be more of a down lineman full time, supporting the rushing defense. With FAU boasting quality backs in Buddy Howell and Devin Singletary, and the Owls struggling to throw the ball, ODU will try to stop the run first.
Defensive Players to Watch
- 37 Marvin Branch, LB, Jr.: The team leader in tackles with 34, Branch recorded nine of those tackles last week against Va. Tech. He also had a team high 15 tackles versus UMass earlier this year. He’ll be around the ball all night.
- 11 Miles Fox, Jr., DT: With 3.5 sacks Fox is tied for the team lead with defensive end Bunmi Rotimi, who will miss the game because of injury. Fox recorded six tackles two weeks ago against Virginia Tech.
QB Beware: The 4.25 sacks per game averaged by Old Dominion is second-most nationally. Those numbers, however, are a bit deceiving. Of their 17 sacks on the season, 15 came in the Monarchs first two games – victories over Albany and UMass.
Late and Close: Old Dominion is 8-2 in one possession games since moving to FBS in 2014. Two of the three games against FAU were decided by a touchdown or less.
Open Season: In their three seasons as members of C-USA, ODU is 2-1 in conference openers.