EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 10th in a series of previews on Marshall and West Virginia football opponents.
Date with Marshall: Saturday, Oct. 4, time, TV TBA (12-day window)
Site: Foreman Field (20,118, AstroTurf GameDay Grass 3D), Norfolk, Va.
Series: First game
Coach: Bob Wilder (sixth year, 46-14)
Checking them out
The Thundering Herd begins its 10th Conference USA season with what may be the league’s most intriguing newcomer in the current realignment.
ODU revived football in 2009 under the indefatigable Bobby Wilder, and the program has carved its niche in the Hampton Roads market. The Monarchs have a small stadium, yes, but have sold it out for all 35 home games.
The Monarchs will be playing their third C-USA game, but you can expect a charged-up atmosphere and footballs flying through the skies, courtesy of Taylor Heinicke. Should MU’s Rakeem Cato underperform or suffer injury, this senior could become the first-team All-CUSA passer.
Last year, Heinicke topped 4,000 yards, completed 70 percent of his passes with 33 touchdowns. He leads all active major-college QBs in career passing yards (11,483) and touchdowns (102), among other categories. His high-yardage game is 533, set in a 59-38 win last year at Idaho.
The receiving corps was loaded, but has lost five members. Larry Pinkard, who gained more than 1,000 yards, was dismissed and Blair Roberts will be redshirted after back surgery. Three other receivers were dismissed, leaving Antonio Vaughan (60 catches, 843 yards, nine touchdowns) as the lone returning starter. The Monarchs will spread the ball among a committee of backs. The line not only lost three starters, but it has to adjust to its first dose of 11 straight FBS teams.
At some point, the other team gets the ball, and Monarch fans typically avert their eyes. ODU finished last season on the very wrong side of an 80-20 whuppin’ by North Carolina. The Monarchs gave up 58 points in 47 minutes to The Citadel before stiffening to win by one.
The defense also faces the adjustment of facing 11 FBS foes in a row.
Offense: QB Taylor Heinicke, WR Antonio Vaughan
ODU wants to build a new stadium, a 30,000-seat facility on the Elizabeth River waterfront. Foreman Field has been deemed to be unsuitable for an expansion without a near-total rebuilding. Foreman Field was once a Depression-era Works Progress Administration project. The timeline for a new stadium? Perhaps 2018, when Virginia Tech is scheduled to play there. … The old stadium underwent a $24.5 million renovation to gear up for the return of football, and enlarged the locker rooms from the move from the FCS to the FBS.
DATE OPPONENT 2013
Aug. 30 Hampton DNP
Sept. 6 at North Carolina State DNP
Sept. 13 Eastern Michigan DNP
Sept. 20 at Rice* DNP
Sept. 26 (Fri) Middle Tennessee* DNP
Oct. 4 Marshall* DNP Oct. 11 at Texas-El Paso* DNP
Oct. 25 at Western Kentucky* DNP
Nov. 1 at Vanderbilt DNP
Nov. 8 Fla. International* DNP
Nov. 2 2 Louisiana Tech* DNP
Nov. 29 at Florida Atlantic* DNP
* Conference USA games
2013 record: 8-4 (independent)
Dropped: East Carolina (L 38-52), Maryland (L 10-47), Howard (W 76-19), The Citadel (W 59-58), Albany (W 66-10), Liberty (W 21-17), Pittsburgh (L 24-35), at Norfolk State (W 27-24), Rhode Island (W 66-14), at Idaho (W 59-38), Campbell (W 42-14), North Carolina (L 20-80).