Keys to an Old Dominion victory at the Bahamas Bowl

NASSAU, BAHAMAS (WAVY) — Friday afternoon on ESPN, the nation will see the Old Dominion football team take on Eastern Michigan in the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl.

While the Old Dominion defense has made some drastic improvements this season, they have to contain Eastern Michigan quarterback Brogan Roback.

“The quarterback does a great job of making great throws and making good decisions,” said defensive coordinator Rich Nagy. “He doesn’t really make a lot of mistakes with the football. He’s completed a lot of deep balls, too. That’s really helped their offense go.”

The Monarchs still have to score to beat Eastern Michigan on Friday. And to do that, ODU has to move the ball downfield which won’t be easy, because of defensive lineman Pat O’Connor.

“He wreaked havoc two years ago against us,” offensive coordinator Brian Scott said. “Last year, he was out with a shoulder injury. He’s back this year, and he’s playing just like he was two years ago, at an all-conference level.”

If the offensive line can stop O’Connor, look for quarterback David Washington to hook up with his two favorite receivers, Zach Pascal and Jonathan Duhart.

“They have a lot of guys that play off, and they play like they don’t want us to go deep,” said Zach Pascal. “So,we just have to take advantage of that.

And of course ODU has the dynamic running back of Jeremy Cox and Ray Lawry. Cox reached the endzone 13 times this season while Lawry once again rushed for over 1,000 yards.

“Honestly, our receivers and Dave, you know him being a threat, that takes a lot of pressure off the run game,” Lawry said.  “So, that opens up a lot of stuff for me. Having those guys as play-makers makes it easy for me. And having Jeremy Cox come in–that one-two punch, is really effective, too.”

Just making a first bowl appearance is historic, but winning is the key. This Bahamas vacation turns into a business trip in less than 48 hours.

“From the start of it, we knew it was a business trip,” said linebacker Anthony Wilson. “Our main focus wasn’t to come have fun, and just vacation. Our main focus was to play a game, be 1-0 by the time we go back home.”

Kickoff is 1:00 on ESPN. Stay with WAVY.com for all of your Bahamas Bowl coverage.