Football ready to open season at Old Dominion
ALBANY, N.Y. – The University at Albany football team opens its 2017 season Saturday at Old Dominion. The game, which kicks off at 6 p.m., will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
Here are five things to know about the matchup:
SCHEDULE STRENGTH: This marks the third straight season the Great Danes open with a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent. Last year, UAlbany upset Buffalo, 22-16, on the road to begin a 7-4 season (4-4 Colonial Athletic Association). The win was the program’s first over an FBS team.
SCOUTING OLD DOMINION: Led by head coach Bobby Wilder (67-30, 8th year), Old Dominion is coming off a 2016 campaign that included a victory over Eastern Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl, a 9-3 regular-season record and share of the Conference USA East title with Western Kentucky. The bowl victory came in Old Dominion’s first bowl appearance as an FBS member. The Monarchs return 15 starters. Running backs Ray Lawry, Old Dominion’s all-time leading rusher, and Jeremy Cox both are back after combining for 2,239 total yards and 24 rushing touchdowns a year ago. Old Dominion was picked third in the East Division in the Conference USA preseason media poll, behind Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee.
INJURY REPORT: The Great Danes will be playing without running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks, the leading rusher in the CAA last season with 1,401 yards. The junior from Newark, N.J., suffered a knee injury in last year’s season-finale against Stony Brook; he returned for the start of training camp, but was injured again Aug. 16. He will be reevaluated next week. With Ibitokun-Hanks sidelined, Kendall Rodgers Jr., will start. Karl Mofor, a freshman, will see carries, too.
FOR STARTERS: Third-year quarterback Will Brunson will get the start for UAlbany. Brunson started the final two games of last season, leading victories over New Hampshire and Stony Brook. A native of Myrtle Beach, S.C., Brunson has been playing quarterback since he was about 5 years old. His father, Brian, was his coach growing up.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN: This is the first of two road games to open the season for the Great Danes. They travel to Morgan State for a Sept. 9 game before the home-opener Sept. 16 against Monmouth.