NORFOLK, Va. - It's homecoming weekend at Old Dominion University and the Monarchs are in desperate need of some home cooking - anything to put a better taste in their mouths.
ODU (1-and-6) is mired in a six-game losing streak, tied for the longest in program history (2017). Saturday, the Monarchs are two-touchdown underdogs to Florida Atlantic, so Bobby Wilder's team is in danger of a seventh straight loss - one that would keep ODU out of a bowl game for the third straight season.
"The one thing you see from this football team, week in and week out, is that they’ll keep fighting, they’ll keep competing," Wilder said this week. "We’re youthful right now, we got some guys banged up, but right now, we’re playing 70 players. We’re playing a lot of players at this point, and of those 70 that are playing, only eight of them, that are playing a good amount of football will not be back next year. So, 89% of this roster, right now that’s playing a lot of football, there all going to be back. That’s what I’m most encouraged about with this team."
But with five games to go this season, don't blame Monarchs fans if they're not thrilled to already be looking ahead to 2020. ODU's lone victory this year came August 31st, a 24-21 season-opening victory vs. Norfolk State. NSU plays at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level, meaning the Monarchs have yet to beat an opponent from its division - the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
"It's a challenge for everybody," Wilder said when asked how difficult it is to remain positive. "Your whole week is determined by the result on Saturday and that's what you live with the next week."
The answer is pretty clear as to what's not translating from practice to the games and that's our youth, our inexperience. We're not processing information quick enough on the field.
Wilder is three years removed from a 10-and-3 season and a victory in the Bahamas Bowl.
"I do feel like our roster is good enough," Wilder responded when pressed if he has enough good players to win at this level. "We've just got to process information a little bit faster. We have talented kids, kids that can play good football. There is certainly enough talent on this roster to be able to win and my job is I have to coach them better - that's the bottom line."
FAU vs. ODU kicks off at 3:30 p.m Saturday inside S.B. Ballard Stadium.