Minium: ODU football team proved in second half against Buffalo they can win a lot of games

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Through Harry mini

If you missed seeing the second half of the Old Dominion football game on Saturday night and some fans left at halftime, you missed out on a miraculous comeback and learned a lesson everyone who stayed drank.

If the team that absolutely dominated Buffalo in the second half shows up the rest of the season, ODU is going to win a lot of games.

ODU (1-3) was terrible in the first half, especially in attack. The Monarchs took six penalties, allowed touchdowns on a blocked kick and fumble and dropped two touchdown passes in the first half and deserved to be in Buffalo, 35-7.

Buffalo, mind you, is a pretty good team. The Bulls’ only losses were to Nebraska and a 3-point home loss to No.16 Coastal Carolina. Buffalo lost only once last season and won a bowl game.

And in the second half, ODU dominated the Bulls unlike what I’ve seen a Monarch team dominate an opponent for years. They were more dominant than they were in a 47-7 win over Hampton.

ODU’s defense limited the Bulls to 40 yards and just one first down in the second half, and by the way, both numbers were school records by far.

ODU’s offense, meanwhile, reached 319 yards, 19 first downs and four touchdowns.

This is perhaps the better half of the football ODU has played since September 22, 2018, when the Monarchs upset Virginia Tech at former Foreman Field.

Unfortunately, ODU kept making mistakes in the second half. Isiah Paige, a freshman with a lot of potential, fumbled a few yards from the end zone. Minutes later Nick Rice missed an equalizer after the touchdown.

It wasn’t a conventional PAT, however – due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, it was 35 yards. He missed it by a few inches.

Yes, it was a painful and heartbreaking loss. But the second half was also a revelation and could be a turning point for a team that I said the whole season has the potential to be very good.

When this team is motivated, when they really stick to the 1-0 mentality, this coach Ricky rahne instilled, they are a good team, able to beat anyone left on their schedule. Going 1-0 means putting aside what happened in the last game, or yesterday or last week and focusing on the next game or the practice of the day or the team meeting of the day.

Win every rep, every rep and every day.

“This second half has shown the potential of this team when we perform in the right way,” said Rahne. “The first half showed what any team would look like if you didn’t perform.

“The second half showed what we can do.”

He added that he expects the way ODU played in the second half “to become the norm”.

Going 1-0 means training hard and well and the team got off to a good start on Sunday. “This is the best Sunday workout we’ve had,” he said.

What happened at half-time to change things? Apparently, the Monarchs finally took Rahne’s message about the 1-0 to heart.

And he challenged them too.

“I told them I wanted the guys to compete and if they didn’t want to compete they could stay in the locker room,” he said. “If they can’t compete, I don’t want to be associated with them.”

When asked if he feels better on his team now, he replied: “I feel better because we executed what I know we can. I feel better because I believe in this team. , and I think they can do what they’ve been doing the whole second half. I believed in it all season. I think the second half has boosted their confidence in the process. “

Senior captain in sixth year Isaac Weaver says that is indeed the case.

“Coach Rahne told us (at halftime) that the only way for us to have a chance is to go 1-0 in every game,” he said. “It’s something he’s been preaching from day one and I think it’s the first time we’ve really embraced it.

“It was the first time that we had really good evidence of what happens when we do this.”

Monarch Football Article: Q&A from Isaac Weaver
ODU offensive lineman Isaac Weaver

I think the unsportsmanlike conduct flag that forced Rice to try and hit a 35-yard PAT should have perhaps stayed in the referee’s pocket. Children are children and some will let their emotions slip away from them. There was no taunt from the Buffalo players, just the glee of the guys celebrating a miraculous comeback.

Rahne doesn’t agree with me. He thought it was a good decision, and he obviously knows a lot more about football than I do.

“I think that’s the rule, you can’t do it and I think they should throw” the flag, he said, adding: “I want things to be okay. the rule and I was okay with that rule. It’s an emotional game and we let our emotions take over. “

But he also noted a play later, after the extra point missed, the Buffalo players also entered the field. “I don’t remember 23 guys being on their field goal blocking team,” he said. “There were guys there down to the numbers.”

Would a penalty in this situation have helped ODU? Probably not. Buffalo easily recovered the kick to the side. But moving the ball 15 yards forward would have put more pressure on the Bulls. On that we will never know because the referees did not call the penalty they should have had.

It’s a team of officials from Conference USA who got some very tough decisions. For example, fans insisted that Buffalo’s Dylan McDuffie was tackled in the end zone for safety in the dying minutes. But he wasn’t. It was a difficult decision and the referees understood it well.

They got the better of many others as well.

There was no meanness towards ODU. Referees are sometimes wrong, like all of us.

Rice is one of ODU’s all-time best kickers and stays that way even after the dud. If this had been a real attempt at PAT, he would almost surely have gone through the studs. Towards the end of its flight, it drifted a few inches to the right.

This loss is not on him, or any other single player. Breakaways, missed blocks, abandoned passes and poor throws have also occurred.

“Nick has been through a lot,” Rahne said. “He’s missed kicks before and he’s bounced back and done really well.

“His confidence level is the same. That’s one of the reasons I have a lot of respect for this kid. He deserved the right to be trusted.

“Tom Brady is considered one of the greatest players of all time and he’s missed a few. For some reason kickers are never allowed to miss. And quarterbacks are missing all the time.”

The road ahead is difficult for the ODU. The Monarchs make the longest road trip of the Conference of the United States on Saturday when they visit UTEP. And El Paso, located under New Mexico halfway to the Arizona border, is 1,980 miles from Norfolk. A departure time of 9 p.m. EST ensures the Monarchs will arrive in Norfolk at sunrise.

UTEP (3-1) is in its fourth season under the direction of head coach Dana Dimel, with whom Rahne coached at Kansas State. Rahne calls him “a great man and a great football coach”.

Assistant Defensive Coordinator and Safety Coach Remington rebstock arrived at the ODU of UTEP in 2019.

Rebstock UB
ODU Remington
Rebstock coach at UTEP last season

Dimel did a tremendous job rebuilding a program that was at its bottom when he took office at the end of 2017. The miners have 14 starters back and have recruited the junior colleges well.

Their most impressive victory was a 20-13 triumph over New Mexico last weekend. No surprise here – UTEP is a 3½ point favorite.

The trip to UTEP can be grueling and next week the Monarchs get back on a plane right away and head to Marshall (2-2), a team that has beaten Navy, 49-7, and lost games that ‘she probably should have won against East Carolina and the Appalachian State.

Next, the ODU returns home on Oct. 16 to host Western Kentucky, which lost by three to the undefeated Army and by two points last week at home to Indiana. The monarchs then benefit from a well-deserved week of leave.

It’s going to be a tough job, but these guys have been through a lot, or as Rahne said on Saturday night, “they got fired”.

They were 1-11 in 2019 and didn’t play last season. They’re 1-3 so far this season and yet they look to the future, and the first of eight games in the US Conference, with a positive outlook.

And ODU fans too.

As I walked from the press box to the interview room on Saturday night, there was a buzz among the crowds exiting SB Ballard Stadium. Some were disappointed with the loss, but most of the comments fans gave me were ‘what a comeback’ and ‘they are a good football team‘.

And both statements are absolutely correct.

Minium has been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize during his 39 years at the Virginian-Pilot and has won 27 state and national writing awards. He covers ODU athletics for odusports.com Follow him on Twitter @Harry_MiniumODU, Instagram @ hbminium1 or email hminium@odu.edu


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