Photo Courtesy to @ODUFootball on Twitter
Jalen Hannah | Associate Sports Editor
Old Dominion University has a football program that is still growing and rebuilding under Coach Ricky Rahne. Coach Rahne and his team are still adjusting to each other as a team, with this season being the first in his two years spent at ODU playing in competitive games. This is due to last year's season being thrown out of the window due to the pandemic.
Coach had his team doing everything you would expect from a football program during that first year, but the team was unable to play any games. There were several blue versus white scrimmages for the team to get a feel of the system that Coach wanted to implement. This could have been partly done in hopes of avoiding a slow start when the team would finally be able to go at full speed again. Currently, the Monarch's sit at the bottom of the conference, holding an overall record of 1-5.
The team is improving week by week, getting closer and closer to another victory. They are still on a four game losing streak, with some of those losses coming in a heartbreaking fashion. In a home game against Buffalo, ODU rallied back from a huge deficit. The game tying field goal attempt did not go through. In addition, the game against Marshall caused a shrink in lead in the fourth quarter. They lost in overtime. While the team is struggling, the program is confident in their ability to get back up and keep trying. ODU needs to win a game to get back on track. If they do, they will be heading in the right direction.
The Monarchs will have an opportunity to bounce back when they play Western Kentucky University this weekend. WKU, like ODU, is also sitting at the bottom of the Conference USA standings. The team has played one less game than ODU so far this season, but have only won their season opener. Similar to ODU, Western Kentucky has been losing games with close scores. When they played UTSA, they lost 46-52. This has set up a game with two programs wanting to improve their performance and fight back.
Coach Rahne had a press conference on Monday to discuss last weekend’s loss against Marshall. He also mentioned how to move forward and improve against the Western Kentucky game. The presser started with a statement that gave attendees the ability to understand that the players played hard and tried their best, but continuously kept falling short at the end. Rahne stated that they “ need to find a way from the coaches to the players.. anyone involved with the program we got to find a way to close that one out and get that win.”
Most of the presser was spent talking about the WKU game, but it was mentioned that the team "ran out of gas". This was noted as a mental thing. Rahne also said that “we’ve got to make sure that we’re mentally locked in through practice and focused in practice through every single play so we can start to build up that sort of mentality throughout the game.” A losing streak can drain a team mentally, which makes it even more of a challenge to get back on track. However, Coach Rahne gave his players some credit, stating how the team has not lost focus and are doing a good job facing challenges.
It’s safe to say that the players and coaches involved with this program want to win this upcoming game for each other more than anything else. Even though this will be homecoming week, that is secondary to them. With this being said, homecoming week is something that is highly anticipated and regarded not just at Old Dominion, but at schools across the nation. In the grand scheme of things, in the college football world, a team's homecoming game is just another game on the schedule. It is just like all of the other games where players walk out with either a win or loss.
It's no secret, however, that players want to put on a good show for themselves and the student body. After asking Coach Rahne if he's sensing a different type of energy from his team going into the homecoming game, he responded stating “I know that’s obviously a factor, I want our guys to have intrinsic motivation because that lasts longer. We’ve got to make sure that we are intrinsically motivated. I wanna make sure that with our guys that motivation is coming from inside.”
Rahne said that the team reads one of his favorite poems line by line. The poem is read line by line in order to help dig into intrinsic motivation. This program will be looking for another opportunity to come back with a great amount of restored motivation and an excited student body. The highly anticipated homecoming game kickoff against Western Kentucky will take place this Saturday at 2:30 p.m.