NORFOLK, Va. - After going oh-for-October, there's a much more pleasant zero for the Old Dominion football team in November. It's in the loss column.
"We’ve been able to play really good football in November through nine years," explained ODU head coach Bobby Wilder. "We’re 25-4 in November, we’re 2-0 this year in November."
Following six straight losses from September 16 to October 28, the Monarchs, last year's Bahamas Bowl champions, fell to 2-and-6 on the season. Per NCAA bylaws, to be considered for a bowl game - a team must have won a number of games against Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponents that is equal to or greater than the number of its overall losses (e.g., a record of 6-6, or better). Therefore, ODU needs six wins to achieve bowl eligibility.
Needing four wins in four weeks to get to six victories, the Monarchs are halfway there following an upset victory at Florida International Saturday.
"I didn’t have to talk about what the scenarios were with them," Wilder explained. "We've got to win this game. We don't have any wiggle room at all. We're completely up against the wall."
When pointing to where the season turned, Wilder singles out two things.
"Number one we cut back on practice time, but we don’t cut out fundamentals," Wilder said. "We always start practice with blocking, tackling, footwork, throwing, catching, doing bag drills, and trying to stick to the fundamentals that a lot of times as a coach when you get challenged with practice time that’s the first thing that gets cut. You want to spend all your time out scouting, you want to show the kids the plays they’re going to see, and we’ve stuck with that and I think it’s helped us. I feel like we’re getting better as a team fundamentally, I feel like we’re throwing the ball better, I feel like we’re catching it better, I think our tackling has improved throughout the season."
The Monarchs host 1-and-9 Rice Saturday in their home finale. Kickoff is set for 2pm at Foreman Field.