Ten most critical plays in 2013

Aaron Evans1

ODU went 8-4 last season, finding themselves in six fairly competitive games.  The other six were one-sided.  In the six competitive games, the margin of victory was an average of nine points.  In the games that were blowouts, the margin ballooned to over forty-eight points.

It was an abnormal season, thanks to the unbalanced schedule brought on by the FCS to FBS transition.  This season presents more challenges with eleven FBS games but will also likely present competitive games on a more consistent basis.

ODU was a very young team last season and young teams have to learn how to win.  A single play or two can alter a game or perhaps even a season.  ODU played roughly 2,000 snaps last season and I’ve identified ten that were critical to defining the season, both good and bad.

#10  Carden to Grayson to close the first half at East Carolina

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ODU could be the trickiest game for Marshall

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I’m not sure if you’ve “heard” but Marshall is expected to go undefeated this season en route to hosting the C-USA Championship game in Huntington.

Phil Steele has them ranked #19, playing Auburn in the Orange Bowl and going 12-0 as well in the regular season.

They have a quarterback (Rakeem Cato) who you can bet on to win the Heisman Trophy.  They have a receiver (Tommy Shuler) who caught 106 passes out of the slot and a running back (Steward Butler) who nearly averaged nine yards per carry.

Don’t even get me started about their defense.

Marshall has a soft schedule.  In the non-conference they open at Miami-OH, host Rhode Island and Ohio then play at Akron.  They should be 4-0.

In conference play they get all of the tough games at home (Rice, FAU, MTSU and WKU) where they crushed C-USA competition last season.  On the road they play fairly weak competition in FIU, Southern Miss and UAB.  The lower rung C-USA schools.

Marshall travels to Norfolk to play ODU on October 4th.  Marshall will be undefeated and nationally ranked.  ODU could ruin their season.

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VIDEO: ODU at C-USA Media Day

That Bobby Wilder fella is pretty good at this stuff. And by the way, Taylor Heinicke is tired of hearing about all of his records.

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Projecting ODU’s over/under win totals

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First off, I do not bet on ODU Athletics and secondly this is NOT a prediction of the upcoming 2014 season.

Vegas has released over/under win totals for power conference schools, hopefully the totals for ODU and other C-USA schools will be released shortly.  What professional handicappers set the line at is a pretty good indicator for how a season or game may finish.

They are not inside the same bubble that we are and can look at everything far more objectively.  When the schedule initially came out, I was leaning towards a record of 6-6.  ODU has compiled a record of 46-14 under Bobby Wilder and it was hard for me to fathom a losing season.

Things have changed over the last couple of months.  The youth of the roster, combined with the losses at wide receiver and offensive line suggest a rough season.  Taylor Heinicke at QB sort of gives ODU a chance in every game, which makes predicting ODU’s year end record a tall order.

Here’s how I would handicap all twelve games from a neutral perspective:

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Observations on the initial 2014 depth chart

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Bobby Wilder released his initial 2014 depth chart to media yesterday at the C-USA Media Day.  I’m not going to list the chart but Harry Minium has it here for reference purposes.

One thing to keep it mind is last season the depth chart was very fluid and it should be that way again.  Another item is that 20 of the 28 members of the 2014 recruiting class are already listed on the depth chart.  Practice does not start until August 4th and coaches have not worked with them.  This tells me that we should expect most of them to not redshirt and compete for playing time.

Quarterback

With the usually strong wide receiver position now a major question mark, this is the defacto strongest unit entering fall practice.  Taylor Heinicke will challenge Rakeem Cato (Marshall) for all league honors.

The big news is that David Washington indeed appears to be moving to wide receiver.  He is still listed as the backup but that is likely until either Colin McElroy or Shuler Bentley earn the coveted role as Heinicke’s backup.  McElroy is a chain-mover whereas Bentley is one of the most anticipated recruits in program history and a record shattering signal caller from South Carolina.

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