Marshall quarterback Isaiah Green will be criticized for four turnovers last week. Such is life at the position. However, Green put up one of the top single-game performances in Herd history in moving the ball. Still, without points it doesn’t translate, and that is Green’s charge this week. ODU quarterback Stone Smartt is a big-bodied QB who will be a dual threat.
The Herd’s Brenden Knox is a load to bring down, but will face a stout ODU defense on Saturday. Knox has 395 yards and four touchdowns on the season, and needs a good game this week to help the Herd’s chances. ODU’s Lala Davis is returning from injury and Kesean Strong is a bigger threat as a receiver out of the backfield than as a rusher. The Monarchs are averaging 2.7 yards per rush.
Marshall tight ends Armani Levias and Xavier Gaines are the Herd’s biggest receiving weapons, but wide receivers Talik Keaton, Corey Gammage, Broc Thompson and Tavin Richardson will need to step up in their role due to the nature of ODU’s defense, which provides one-on-one opportunities. Old Dominion is expected to be without Virginia Tech transfer Eric Kumah, putting former quarterback Steven Williams in the limelight.
Marshall’s offensive line has played well as a whole, but there has been periods of inconsistency in which the team was one block away from a big play. That needs corrected against a tough ODU front. Old Dominion’s offensive front has been inconsistent, as well, and not managed to push the pile, struggling in the rushing game and pass protection.
Converted tight end Keion White has been a major force for the Monarchs, as has interior lineman Juwan Ross. The two have combined for 13.5 tackles for loss and five sacks on the year. Marshall’s defensive line has underwhelmed of late with names like Channing Hames and Darius Hodge not being called enough. This could be a big get-right week, however, due to the struggles of the Monarchs up front.
ODU’s Lawrence Garner and Jordan Young are both strong players against the run while Marshall’s tandem of Tavante Beckett and Omari Cobb have each shined, as well. The slight edge goes to Marshall as Cobb has posted back-to-back weeks of career-high tackles while Beckett is going against his hometown team.
Nickelback Geronda Hall is one of the team’s top playmakers and is flanked by talented safety Calvin Brewton, as well. Marshall’s secondary is led by veterans, but playmaking at the back end has been scarce. The Herd needs to capitalize on opportunities when given them.
The Herd has an advantage in the game’s third phase and was close to a punt block last week that could’ve swung the game. Justin Rohrwasser has proven solid at kicker and Robert LeFevre is serviceable as a punter who has not allowed many returns. Field position will be a crucial aspect of this one, especially with weather possibly in the picture.
This one is tricky to decipher. Marshall could easily walk away with a big win if things click in all three phases. That simply hasn’t happened, though, and Old Dominion’s defense is sneaky good enough to turn this into a battle. Marshall wins, but it will be ugly like the weather.