NORFOLK, Va. - After pulling off a historic upset over Virginia Tech during the 2018 season, Old Dominion University football looks to do it a second year in a row.
“They saying they’re all angry and ready to pay us back," ODU linebacker Lawrence Garner said. "We’re still gonna show up and play football. At the end of the day they wear shoulder pads and helmets just like we wear shoulder pads and helmets.”
Unlike last season, ODU will be in enemy territory. Although, Blacksburg is home for two players on the Monarchs roster.
Wide Receiver Eric Kumah and tight end Chris Cunningham both graduated from Virginia Tech, and left the Hokies to join the Monarchs as grad transfers during the offseason.
“It’s not weird for me going back to Blacksburg," Kumah said. "I feel like it’s gonna be really fun, and I’m excited cuz I know what we got over here on this team and I know what they got over there. They’re good players too, and they’re good friends of mine.”
“As far as friends, it’s only friends off the field and not on the field," Cunningham added. "In between those lines it’s no friends when it comes to Saturday.”
During the season opener against Norfolk State Kumah led the receivers with four receptions for 65 yards. Williams had one reception for 12 yards. Both players have been named captains heading into Saturday's game.
“Even though they love Virginia Tech, they graduated, their teammates are their friends up there, they want to help us win and that’s why they’re captains this week," head coach Bobby Wilder said. "They’ve been here four months, and those two guys have been absolutely phenomenal leaders, our players look up to them.”
“You can always count on those guys to know what’s going on in the offense, to make that block or make that tough catch," Garner added. "They get a lot of respect in the locker room.”
The two were on the losing side of last year's upset, and this year they're ready to be with the winning team. Both players stress the need for perfect execution if ODU wants to have a shot at pulling off back-to-back upsets.
“I feel like we’re good enough to beat them just like they feel like they’re good enough to beat us," Kumah said. "I know what they’re saying over there in their meeting, I know what we’re saying in our meetings. At the end of the day it’s gonna come down to who executes better, who’s smarter and who doesn’t allow stupid penalties to happen.”