Heel Tough Blog: @Old Dominion Preview

@TarHeelFootball

Saturday, the Heels will head on the road for the first time in the 2017 season, as they head to Norfolk, Virginia to take on the Old Dominion Monarchs. The Heels won the only meeting between the two schools back in 2013, hanging 80 points on the Monarchs. This time, the Heels will just go in hoping to earn their first win of the season.

Team Breakdowns

Heels

The offense that was such a question mark at the start of the season has evolved into the only thing keeping this team in games. Chazz Surratt (30–42, 329 yds, 3 TD, 0 INT, 10 rush, 35 yds, TD) has been fantastic in his opportunites, sparking this offense in both games so far this season. Brandon Harris (24–39, 276 yds, 1 TD, 2 INT) struggled in the opener, but came in and helped the Heels take a lead against Louisville. Both have proved serviceable enough to power the offense. It helped to have Austin Proehl (12 rec, 175 yds) at receiver. Proehl has been the go to receiver for both quarterbacks so far this season, as the rest of the receivers have been battling to emerge. Thomas Jackson (5 rec, 79 yds, 2 TD) has shown some signs, as has Brandon Fritts (6 rec, 42, 2 TD). Jordan Cunningham (6 rec, 44. yds) and Anthony Ratliff-Williams (4 rec, 56 yds) have thrown their names in the ring, as well. The running game was non-existent last week after having great success in Week 1. This was because of the questionable play calling, which had just 19 designed runs all afternoon. Michael Carter (19 rush, 109 yds, 3 TD) has led the way in the running game and formed a solid 1–2 punch with Jordon Brown (19 rush, 77 yds, 10 rec, 61 yds), who has also been a threat out of the backfield. The offensive line has been solid thus far, but injuries could begin to take their toll.

The defense, which was being looked to to step up in the offseason has failed to do so. The lack of pass rush has been a real issue so far, as the time in the pocket has allowed both quarterbacks the Heels have faced to pick apart the secondary. Jalen Dalton (6 ttkl, 4.0 TFL, 1.0 sck) and Jason Strowbridge (5 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, 0.5 sck) have been the bright spots on the defensive line. Andre Smith (21 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, INT, PD) was bashed over his comments before the Louisville game, but has had strong performances in both games he's played this season. The secondary has been torn apart so far this season and has a huge question mark at the No. 2 CB spot with Corey Bell Jr. (4 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, 0 PD) and K.J. Sails (5 ttkl, 2 PD) both having struggled so far. Donnie Miles (19 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, INT, 0 PD) has provide solid run support, but has struggled in pass defense.

Tom Sheldon (8 punts, 47.5 avg) has been the best defensive weapon the Heels have had all season, flipping field position when needed. Freeman Jones (8–8 XP, 1–2 FG) had a quiet week, but has done what’s been needed. Anthony Ratliff-Williams (7 KOR, 34.9 avg, TD) broke out with a sensational performance on Saturday. Austin Proehl (1 PR, 17.0 avg) hasn’t had many opportunities thus far.

Old Dominion

The Monarchs offense has stumbled out of the gate, but has still gotten to 2–0. Ray Lawry (5 rush, 44 yds, TD) was supposed to be the focal point of the offense, but has been hampered by an hamstring injury. Jeremy Cox (39 rush, 119 yds, 9 rec, 75 yds) has been turned to, but with so much focus on him, he has struggled to take over. Quarterback is still not 100% settled, but Blake LaRussa (24–42, 290 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT, 6 rush, 34 yds) has taken the majority of the snaps, with Jordan Hoy (7–13, 66 yds, 0 TD, 0 INT, 11 rush, 23 yds, TD) taking the rest. Jonathan Duhart (7 rec, 121 yds, 2 TD) has been the go-to receiver thus far, but broke his foot and is out for the season. Travis Fulgham (4 rec, 81 yds) leads a group of receivers that now will be forced to step up. The offensive line has been strong in pass protecting, allowing just two sack so far. However, the Monarchs have struggled in run blocking, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry.

The defense has been the reason for both win this season. The defensive line is on fire, as they have totaled 15 sacks in two games. Miles Fox (13 ttkl, 3.5 TFL, 3.5 scks) and Bunmi Rotimi (10 ttkl, 3.5 TFL, 3.5 scks) have been great, while Pat Toal (10 ttkl, 2.5 TFL, 2.5 scks) and Oshane Ximines (8 ttkl, 2.5 TFL, 2.0 scks) have had strong seasons, as well. Marvin Branch (23 ttkl, 1.0 TFL, INT, 2 PD) has been strong all season, while Jordan Young (13 ttkl, 2.0 TFL, 1.5 scks) has shown promise. Sean Carter (9 ttkl, 0.5 TFL, 0 PD) and Rob Thompson (9 ttkl, PD) leads the secondary for the Monarchs.

Bailey Cate (12 punts, 46.3 avg) has been a weapon so far for the Monarchs. Nick Rice (6–6 XP, 2–2 FG) has been efficient early on. The Monarchs have not had many chances to return kickoffs, but Jeremy Cox (2 KOR, 23.5 avg) and Brandon Simmons (1 KOR, 21.0 avg) have split duties. Darrell Brown (8 PR, 9.9 avg) has looked solid in punt returns.

Team Stats

Heels

Off. PPG: 32.5(64th)

Off. PYPG: 302.5 (27th)

Off. RYPG: 118.0 (101st)

Off. TYPG: 420.5 (64th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 38.5% (73rd)

Def. PPG: 41.0 (122nd)

Def. PYPG: 378.0 (127th)

Def. RYPG: 209.0 (103rd)

Def. TYPG: 587.0 (127th)

Def. 3rd Down %: 51.5

Sacks: 3.0 (72nd)

Interceptions: 2 (32nd)

Turnover Margin: -1

This offense is going to be rather strong again this season. The defense, not so much.

Old Dominion

Off. PPG: 24.0 (93rd)

Off. PYPG: 178.0 (101st)

Off. RYPG: 147.5 (81st)

Off. TYPG: 325.5 (108th)

Off. 3rd Down %: 41.9% (60th)

Def. PPG: 12.0 (19th)

Def. PYPG: 206.5 (61st)

Def. RYPG: 97.0 (36th)

Def. TYPG: 303.5 (40th)

Def. 3rd Down %: 33.3

Sacks: 15.0 (1st)

Interceptions: 1 (67th)

Turnover Margin: -2

Keys To The Game

RUN THE FOOTBALL!!!!!!

Last week was a low point. Running the ball is crucial to offensive success and helps open up the passing game, especially the deep passing game. Throwing the ball too much took it toll, not early, but late, allowing the Cardinals to pull away. The Heels need to a balance on offense, especially with how talent the backfield could potentially be. The Monarchs have allowed just 97.0 rushing yards per game in the first two games of the season, but with the opponents they have faced, it’s a bit misleading. We have to run the football.

Put Up Points

It’s become clear that the defense that we were hoping we could rely on early in the season cannot be relied upon to win us games. Instead, it has proved that the offense has to grow up quickly and score points. That will be crucial this week, as the Heels look to get their first win of the season. The best way to do that is to score anytime you possibly can.

Get After the Quarterback

The secondary has struggled, but that starts with the lack of pressure up front. The Heels have just three sacks so far this season and have failed to consistently get after the quarterback. This has allowed both quarterbacks the Heels have faced to become more and more comfortable in the pocket and slowly pick the secondary apart. More blitzes are needed to create pressure, something we thought we would see under John Papuchis.

Injury Report

Heels

OUT- Rontavius “Toe” Groves (knee), Antwuan Branch (undisclosed)

QUESTIONABLE- Stanton Truitt (undisclosed)

PROBABLE- Chazz Surratt (ankle)

Old Dominion

OUT- Devin Hannan (suspension), Derek Wilder (suspension), Jonathan Duhart (foot), Melvin Vaughn (knee), Chad Hendricks (knee)

QUESTIONABLE- Kane Miskel (knee), Ryan Londree (ankle)

PROBABLE- Ray Lawry (hamstring)

Expected Starting Lineups

Heels

Offense

QB

#12 Chazz Surratt, RFr. OR

# 6 Brandon Harris, Sr.*

RB

# 2 Jordon Brown, So. OR

# 8 Michael Carter, Fr.

WR

# 7 Austin Proehl, Sr.

WR

#48 Thomas Jackson, Sr.

WR

#10 Jordan Cunningham, Sr.

TE

#82 Brandon Fritts, Jr. OR

#86 Carl Tucker, So.

LT

#75 Bentley Spain, Sr.

LG

#58 Nick Polino, So. OR

#64 Khaliel Rodgers, Sr.*

C

#54 Cam Dillard, Sr.*

RG

#71 R.J. Prince, Sr.

RT

#51 William Sweet, So.

Defense

DE

#12 Tomon Fox, RFr. OR

#17 Dajaun Drennon, Sr.

NT

#92 Aaron Crawford, So. OR

#49 Jeremiah Clarke, Jr.

DT

#97 Jalen Dalton, Jr. OR

#55 Jason Strowbridge, So.

DE

#53 Malik Carney, Jr. OR

#95 Tyler Powell, Sr.

WLB

#36 Cole Holcomb, Jr.

MLB

#10 Andre Smith, Jr.

SLB

#23 Cayson Collins, Sr.

CB

# 6 M.J. Stewart, Sr.

FS

# 1 Myles Dorn, So.

SS

#15 Donnie Miles, Sr.

CB

#18 Corey Bell Jr., Jr. OR

# 9 K.J. Sails, So.

Special Teams

K

#98 Freeman Jones, Jr.

KOS

#98 Freeman Jones, Jr.

P

#39 Tom Sheldon, So.

LS

#41 Kyle Murphy, Sr.-PK

#61 Tommy Bancroft, Jr.-P

H

#16 Manny Miles, Sr.

KR

#17 Anthony Ratliff-Williams, So.

PR

# 7 Austin Proehl, Sr.

Old Dominion

Offense

QB

#11 Blake LaRussa, So. OR

#12 Jordan Hoy, So.

RB

#33 Ray Lawry, Sr. OR

#35 Jeremy Cox, Jr.

WR

# 8 Noah Ellison, RFr.

WR

#15 Isaiah Harper, Jr.

WR

# 7 Travis Fulgham, Jr.

TE

# 6 DeAndre Woods, Jr.

LT

#71 Isaac Weaver, So.

LG

#74 Tony Barnett, So.

C

#63 Nick Clarke, Jr.

RG

#78 Darius Garcia, Sr.

RT

#73 Chad Hendricks, Jr.

Defense

DE

#44 Bunmi Rotimi, Sr.

NT

#17 Pat Toal, Jr.

DT

#11 Miles Fox, Jr.

STUD

# 7 Oshane Ximines, Jr.

OLB

#32 Jordan Young, RFr.

MLB

#37 Marvin Branch, Jr.

CB

# 1 Brandon Addison, Jr.

FS

#20 Rob Thompson, Sr.

SS

#31 Sean Carter, Jr.

CB

# 5 Jamez Brickhouse, So. OR

#24 Joe Joe Headen, RFr.

NB

#10 Andre Bernhard, Sr.

Special Teams

K

#98 Nick Rice, Fr.

KOS

#98 Nick Rice, Fr.

P

#96 Bailey Cate, So.

LS

#46 Reed Buce, Sr.

H

#96 Bailey Cate, So.

KR

#35 Jeremy Cox, Jr.

PR

#10 Darrell Brown, So.