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There wasn’t quite the pomp or gravitas of a typical spring-capping event, but there was improvement.
And that was enough for Ricky Rahne.
The second-year Old Dominion coach presided over Saturday’s spring scrimmage at S.B. Ballard Stadium as the Monarchs, who haven’t played an official game in nearly a year and a half, finished their spring workout period before family, friends and a pep band.
“I just wanted to see our guys get better today, and I thought we did that,” said Rahne, who came to ODU after two seasons as Penn State’s offensive coordinator.
“It was a good day. Having the band out here and having fans and stuff, it felt like real football again, so it was great.”
It was far from a real game, though. The Monarchs, who went 1-11 in 2019 and opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, mostly went through situational drills. No statistics were kept, and there was no final score.
Capacity at the 21,944-seat venue was limited to 1,000.
The day’s most significant development might have been the unveiling of new Columbia blue uniforms, which will be worn twice during the 2021 season.
Among Saturday’s notable plays were a touchdown pass by senior quarterback Stone Smartt and a touchdown-thwarting interception by junior cornerback Larry Hawkins.
But Rahne, whose staff is focused on instilling fundamentals and identifying coachable players, wasn’t looking to name starters this spring.
Instead of a planned traditional spring game, the program shifted gears late after determining that meeting current COVID protocols to allow fans at the stadium wasn’t quickly feasible.
ODU, which last played on Nov. 30, 2019, is scheduled to open the season Sept. 3 at Wake Forest. The home opener comes eight days later against Hampton.
Until the Monarchs reconvene for fall camp, Rahne hopes his players will continue to set a high standard in all they do.
“We always talk about how you do anything is how you do everything,” he said. “So if we want to be champions, then we’ve got to work out that way. We’ve got to go to school that way. We’ve got to do everything that way. So it’s really important that we finish strong.”