To prep for this year’s iteration of the Monarchs, I focused on their opening game against Norfolk State. It ended up a close game, though it could’ve easily been a blowout by the Monarchs if they’d gotten their act together in the first half. I also watched a bit of last year’s VT/ODU disaster. That experience was a bit like looking down during a vasectomy.
The biggest reason for watching last year’s game was to find returning players, because these Monarchs lost a lot of folks from 2018. The top two three receivers are gone (one currently on an NFL roster, another on a practice squad), as is the QB who got them the ball. Also gone are the starters on the defensive line—this includes DE Oshane Ximines, now a linebacker for the NY Giants, and DE Tim Ward, now a reserve for KC. Their safeties are both gone, too, but that wasn’t as much of a loss. All told, they lost about thirteen senior starters.
Scheme-wise (terminology, reads, routes, etc.) there shouldn’t be too many differences, given offense-minded HC Bobby Wilder returns, as does his OC. However, the personnel are very different. They’ve gone from WR-heavy to using lots of H-backs and TEs, and they leaned on the QB-running game. They were also very deliberate in their approach, often choosing to work from the traditional huddle. I did notice this split jet sweep call, which is a bit like what Pitt used to run, that doesn’t ring a bell from last year: