Coaches like to tell fans that the difference between a good day and a bad day can be as simple as a few dropped balls, a fumble here and there, or a crucial missed read by a QB or a cornerback.
There’s truth to that of course, but it doesn’t explain a unit as inconsistent as Old Dominion’s offense in 2017.
The Monarchs scored almost as many points against North Carolina 3 weeks ago as they did against Albany, an FCS team, in Week 1. On October 6th, ODU scored 28 points against Lane Kiffen’s souped-up Florida Atlantic squad…a week before scoring a mere field goal in a 35-3 loss to Marshall.
Meanwhile, the Old Dominion defense has been awful for most of the season. Opponents are averaging 430+ yards and almost 35 points-per-game against the Monarchs.
That could be bad news with Western Kentucky coming to town this Friday night. The Hilltoppers are at 4-2 and enjoying a 3-game winning streak, QB Mike White throwing for 5 touchdowns and rushing for another in a 45-14 demolition of Charlotte last weekend.
Who: Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Old Dominion Monarchs
When: Friday, October 20th, 6 PM EST
Where: Foreman Field, Norfolk, VA
Lines: Western KY (-10) at ODU (+10) / O/U Total: 49.5
The Hilltoppers are also allowing just 18.2 points per game, calling into question whether ODU will be able to generate any offense at all. WKU does not have a dominant pass rush, and allowed almost 250 yards rushing to Charlotte last week – though a good chunk of that came once things were decided.
Most of the talent on the Hilltopper defense lies in the secondary. DBs such as junior DeAndre Farris have been improving slowly, helping make up for any lack of size or pressure up front. A big, bruising offense which can run and throw can take advantage of Western KY’s weaknesses on defense, but do the Monarchs qualify?
Not likely. The hosts have been unable to blow teams off the ball, averaging just 3.8 ypc with a poor conversion % in 3rd down-and-manageable situations. QB Steven Williams has been a fright, missing on almost 6 of every 10 passes. Tailback Ray Lawry does provide a bright spot as a returning rusher who can do damage.
Conference games can be surprisingly tough – just look at the Big Ten and the ACC last weekend. But the Hilltoppers won’t see their hot streak end against a flaky offense with only 1 or 2 real weapons.
Without a viable passing threat to contend with, the ‘Toppers can focus on stopping Lawry and the Monarchs’ other weapons on the ground. That will add up to a strong defensive outing.
Take WKU (-10) to cover, and consider a bet on under (49.5) points.