Brian Scott is the headset behind the madness, the offensive coordinator for Old Dominion, puppet master for the Football Championship Subdivision’s most prolific attack. Last season, the Monarchs piled up more than 5,100 passing yards and topped 40 points eight times. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke won the Walter Payton Award, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy and, on one insane day, threw for a Division I-record 730 yards against New Hampshire.
Scott chatted via telephone on Tuesday about this weekend’s matchup against Maryland, one of five Football Bowl Subdivision games Old Dominion plays this year as it transitions up a level. Scott talked about Heinicke, familiar faces on the Terps and facing a defense that knows the spread well.
Seven hundred and thirty? Seriously?
I had no idea what our yardage was during the game. Then we got in, checked the stat sheet, it was like holy cow. I didn’t realize it was that much. But he handles it well. He handles it well with his teammates. Obviously he was the center of attention that week. He doesn’t get full of himself.
Without question he’s the face of the program. Certainly winning the Walter Payton Award solidified that, but even before that. When he broke that Division I record last year, I think that really put him on the map. He was on it before, he had a heck of a true freshman year, but it really put him over the top.
Taylor doesn’t seem like a flashy quarterback, especially not the type his numbers would suggest. How much of his success comes from wearing an opposing defense down through short, high-percentage passes?
He really understands the philosophy of taking the completion. That’s first and foremost. There are times when you look at it and there may be a guy downfield wide open, but he checked down and just keeps the chains moving, which is most important. We want to keep things out on the field, try to wear them down with our tempo and how many plays we run. He really understands the philosophy of the offense.
Is it possible to tell when an opposing defense practices against a spread offense every day, like Maryland?
With ECU, their spread offense, they played a lot of spread offensive teams last year, so we kind of knew what they were going to do, and we knew they would handle it well. They see it every day. Certainly when we play teams who don’t see it, it’s kind of a guessing game. But I do think teams that go against it every day in practice handle it a little better.
Taylor called these five FBS games “bowl games.” Because you don’t have a conference championship to play for, is this basically the postseason?
It’s a chance to put our stamp on the season when we play these games. Certainly we’ll be underdogs in the five FBS games we do play, but that’s the challenge of it. It’s really exciting when you get to play a team from the ACC. We play Pitt later on, North Carolina, when you get to play a team like East Carolina in front of 50,000 who’s predicted to be the Conference USA champs, whether you call it a bowl game or a big game, it’s something you really get up for when you’re a new program jumping up to the FBS level.
(Bonus!) How confident does it make you to have a quarterback as diligent in his preparation and as seemingly unflappable as Taylor?
He sets the tone. I always feel like, at that position, that better be the hardest-working player and the best kid on the team as far as work ethic and doing the right things on and off the field. He certainly brings a level of calmness to our offense. We’re not a big rah-rah offense. We don’t celebrate after big plays. We just play the next play. I think it all starts with him. He’s a very down-to-earth, poised individual.
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