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Let's take a deeper look at Old Dominion: A Q&A with Harry Minium on the Monarchs

Harry Minium (@Harry_MiniumVP) is a columnist for the Virginian-Pilot, and covers Old Dominion athletics for the Pilot. He joins us here to answer some questions about the upcoming game against the Monarchs.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

BTP: Two games into the season, Ray Lawry is leading the nation in rushing yards and attempts, with 438 yards and 59 carries, respectively. Those are some impressive numbers, but it sounds like head coach Bobby Wilder wants to lessen that load a bit. Do you think we'll see another game featuring Ray carrying the bulk of the offense?

HM: ODU's coaches say they can't afford to keep running Lawry 25 or 30 times per game and I agree. He is pretty sore this week after two physical games. You'll see more of true freshman Kesean Strong and wide receiver Zach Pascal was moved to running back against Norfolk State. Strong runs a lot like Lawry. Pascal is more elusive. Depth at running back is an issue. Tailback Jeremy Cox is sidelined with an injury. But they've got to figure a way to take the load off of Lawry.

BTP: This is the first time ODU will play a Power 5 and ACC school at home, the game's at 7:00 pm, and ODU will be sporting some snazzy new lids. Safe to say the crowd should be pretty electric, eh?

HM: It will be loud. This is by far the biggest-name opponent ODU has played at home. ODU has scheduled well for a second-year FBS program: UNC comes here in 2017, Virginia Tech in 2018 and Wake in 2020. But this is ODU's first home game ever against an ACC team, and as you know, the first time is always special. ODU's stadium is small -- it seats just 20,000 -- and the noise reverberates pretty well. The students, who sit in the north end zone, likely will be really amped up. There will be at least 1,700 State fans there -- that's how many tickets were sold in Raleigh. I'm sure hundreds more managed to buy tickets here.

A note here for any State fans that are coming: the stadium is 79 years old and will be coming down in a year or two to make way for a new stadium. Creature comforts -- restrooms, concessions facilities, etc. -- are lacking. But you'll find ODU fans are friendly and they tail-gate with gusto.

BTP: Last year's matchup featured a ton of points in a game in which the Monarchs played very well. Is there anything that's wildly different about this year's team versus last year's team?

HM: ODU had one of the nation's best quarterbacks last season in Taylor Heinicke, who was the only undrafted quarterback to make an NFL squad (Minnesota Vikings). ODU also lost its top receiver, Antonio Vaughan, to graduation. Both were outstanding last season in Raleigh. The last four years, ODU has been a up-tempo, pass-oriented team. That's all changed this season. In its first two games, ODU has looked to run first and control the clock. ODU did not throw a pass on its first possession against Norfolk State. You try to feature your best player and in the case of ODU, that's clearly Lawry. Redshirt freshman Shuler Bentley has played well at quarterback. He had four dropped passes against Norfolk State. He also overthrew some receivers. That's going to happen with a young quarterback. He's run the offense well and played with poise. He was ODU's first 4-star recruit and will be an outstanding quarterback. But at this point, he's a young quarterback who still has a lot to learn.

BTP: What about NC State's team concerns the Monarchs the most?

HM: Jacoby Brissett. He's such an accurate passer and moves so well with the ball. ODU's defense has had problems containing quarterbacks who move well. State's overall size and talent is also a major concern. ODU is only its second FBS season. The Monarchs only have two true FBS recruiting classes. Of the 48 guys who played against Norfolk Stated, 31 were freshmen and sophomores. State is also young, but remember, the Wolfpack recruits at a higher level than ODU. It's young players are more likely to be ready for college football. ODU has been able to beat ACC schools for only a handful of recruits. One player to watch for: defensive end Oshane Ximines, a redshirt freshman from Ahoskie, N.C. ODU managed to recruit him away from East Carolina. Like any young player, he's struggled at times, but has been ODU's most consistent pass rusher.

BTP: Do the Monarchs have any major injury concerns right now?

HM: ODU has lost five players to major injuries, including tight ends Melvin Vaughn and Adam Swann.  They were so thin at that position that they moved away from a tight end-oriented offense. Five major injuries two games into the season is a concern. They've got four others on the injured list as well.

BTP: Let's get a prediction on the game - will we see another close battle between these two schools?

HM: ODU is an 18 1/2-point underdog and I think that's a good line. ODU is more talented this season than last, but because the talent is so young, it's going to take time for the team to jell. It hasn't jelled yet. State 38, ODU 20.

Many, many thanks to Harry for his awesome responses. Make sure to give him a follow @Harry_MiniumVP during the game this weekend.