Photo courtesy of Old Dominion athletics

Old Dominion wrapped up its spring practice session with a bit of a different event.

It was not exactly your traditional “spring game”. Instead, ODU hosted what it deemed a spring scrimmage where the team was divided into two and ran through drills, as well as pre-planned scenarios.

This gave a select few fans a great chance to see what’s going on at ODU and a chance to see the offense and defense work. Here are a few notes.

Poffenbarger Impresses

Reese Poffenbarger got a good bit of time in skeleton/7v7 drills. Poffenbarger, a preferred walk-on from Maryland, showed some really good stuff. That included a tight spiral, and what appears to be a good understanding of the new offense.

At this time, we have Poffenbarger projected to be fifth on the quarterback depth chart, but based on his performance, he could move up to fourth, and possibly even to third. DJ Mack is the obvious starter, it seems, followed by Hayden Wolff. After that however, it gets murky.

“He did a nice job in the skeleton periods,” head coach Ricky Rahne said. “I think he took advantage of the plays that he had and I thought he operated well. I was right there behind him and thought he was seeing things the right way; there was one throw where he was maybe a little bit late but other than that he operated well, and was very accurate. Quite frankly, he plays better in these situations and these scrimmages than maybe he does in normal times. The pressure tends to bring out the best in him.”

Kickers Struggle with Wind

Both kickers missed a few kicks, but with the winds swirling at Kornblau Field and a new holder, Rahne is optimistic about the posistion.

“We’ve got a new holder and there was a little wind,” Rahne said. “We have to continue to work the kinks out. I think sometimes we give these kickers these expectations like they are never allowed to miss but then everybody else is allowed to mess up. I don’t know why kickers are any different; they’ve got some things to work out but I have the upmost confidence, quite frankly, in both of them. I thought you saw our punters can hit some long ones and did some good things today. We weren’t perfect but we will continue to get better.”

Tight Ends Catching On

During the scrimmage, ODU showed how it plans to use tight ends more in the passing game than the Monrachs did under the previous coaching staff. The tight ends caught balls, and made some good plays. That gives optimism for those who are fans of pass-catching tight ends.

This falls in line with what Rahne wants to do. He recently stated that the tight ends would have an increased role in the passing game than they have previously.

While there weren’t a lot of tight end passes in goal line scenarios, there were a few as the drills progressed from the other end zone and in the middle of the field.

Rahne was not yet ready to name a starting tight end.

I like them all,” Rahne remarked. “They all have different strengths and I’ve been really pleased with what Coach (Fontel) Mines has done with the tight ends this spring. I think he has been an unbelievable addition and those tight ends have gotten a lot better. I’m happy with what they did today and that’s just a sampling of what we will do with them but it was good to see them catch the ball and make some plays.”

Importance of Fans at Scrimmage

While there were only a handful of invited fans at the scrimmage, along with a limited number of family members per each player, it was a nice return to somewhat normal.

The players really enjoyed seeing fans in the stands. While it hopefully is a small fraction of what is allowed when ODU welcomes Hampton in on Sept. 11, it was still a nice treat for fans and players’ families.

“It was good because these guys deserve to have their friends and family here and the Monarch nation and our supporters, the ones who were able to be here,” Rahne commented. “I’m glad they were here to see some football. I wish we could’ve opened it up to everybody, obviously, but that would have been quite a task but I’m really excited that we were able to get some people here. I certainly want our players to have their parents be able to see them play football.”