NORFOLK, VA (WTKR)- Old Dominion is coming off a season that saw the Monarchs put together a five game winning streak to end the schedule and take the field in the Myrtle Beach Bowl. However, that was 2021 and the focus now is moving forward.
The team continues to embrace Ricky Rahne's 1-0 mentality- win every play, every practice, every moment, and don't look too far behind or ahead. As spring practice progresses, ODU is looking to win the time they get on the field by improving.
Many players are back for the 2022 season, but those who the Monarchs lost, especially on the defensive side of the ball, have left some glaring holes. Impact players such as Joe-Joe Headen and Jordan Young played key roles in last year's success. So how will the defensive move forward to try and replace players of that caliber?
"Probably by committee at this point," said defensive coordinator Blake Seiler."That is a lot of experience with some really really smart football players."
"Since I've been here a little longer and I know how things operate, I know the standard," sophomore defensive end Deeve Harris said. "I do take the responsibility on myself to get guys going and make sure we're where we're supposed to be when we're supposed to be there."
Young led the team with 104 tackles in 2021, while Headen picked up two interceptions and seven pass break-ups.
"We have a lot of guys that are playing their second full year of ball in our system under Coach Rahne," Seiler noted. "Those guys are making major strides. Those guys are moving in the right direction, but defensive football is about having all 11 guys."
R'Tarriun Johnson is the team's leading returning tackler from a season ago, finishing second to Young in the category. Terry Jones and Tre Hawkins will help Johnson anchor the defensive backfield, Jason Henderson and Ryan Henry return as experienced linebackers, but the strength of the defense might be on the line. Harris, Amorie Morrison, Marcus Haynes and Tyre Bibby all return after significant playing time a season ago.
"It's just a matter of us stepping up and trusting each other and understanding the task at hand," Harris said.
Old Dominion's spring game is set for April 9. Kickoff is at 2:00 PM at S.B. Ballard Stadium. The Monarchs open their season on September 2 at home against Virginia Tech.