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ODU's DeMarco moves into top 5 in FCS passing yardage
Thomas DeMarco’s single-game school record for passing yards has vaulted him into the top five in total passing yards at the Football Championship Subdivision level.
DeMarco, ODU’s redshirt junior quarterback, threw for 407 yards in Saturday’s 35-21 victory over Monmouth and now ranks fourth nationally with 1,200 yards in four games. He trails Jacksonville State’s Casey Therriault (1,442 yards), Jacksonville’s Josh McGregor (1,212) and Morehead State’s Zach Lewis (1,203).
And yet, no Monarch is in the top 50 in receptions.
“That’s why they call it the spread offense,” coach Bobby Wilder said. “You spread it around.”
Twelve Monarchs have caught passes this season, and Saturday was a typical receiving day, eight ODU players caught passes.
“We have so many good receivers that teams can’t say, ‘We’re going to double-team this guy,’ ” Wilder said, pointing out that Prentice Gill - who isn’t even in ODU’s starting lineup caught six passes for a school-record 154 yards against Monmouth.
ODU’s offense went to double cadences Saturday and its receivers broke out double moves, evidence of the program’s evolution.
Often, DeMarco would line up for a snap with one play called, only to stand up and get a new play from the sideline - a play that addressed what the defense was showing.
Also on Saturday, Reid Evans caught a 22-yard TD pass from DeMarco on a play when he started on a slant route only to cut it off and run a fade instead.
“It’s all about keeping the defenses honest,” Wilder said. “When defensive backs start jumping your routes, then you switch it up.”
All hands on deck
It wasn’t enough that DeMarco threw the ball, ran the ball and even punted the ball - twice - against Monmouth.
He was even called on to recover the ball.
When Monmouth cut ODU’s lead to 35-21 late in the fourth quarter, the Hawks lined up to attempt an onside kick with 4:44 remaining.
While ODU aligned most of its players on its right side for the kick, it left a few to the left. One of them was DeMarco, who pounced on the squibbled kick as it bounded crazily on the artificial turf.
“A lot of teams put their quarterbacks on their ‘hands team,’ ” Wilder said, defending the move. “You need to recover the ball. You need your best guys on the field to do that.”
When the Monarchs (2-2) host Gardner-Webb (2-2) at 6 p.m. Saturday, they will see a team much like their own. It will make practice this week a little less challenging.
“Gardner-Webb is similar to us in that they run the spread and they play the same defense,” Wilder said. “… We won’t have to show a card to our scout team to show what the other team is running or demonstrate a technique. It will help us, but it will help Gardner-Webb as well.”
By Rich Radford, The Virginian-Pilot