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Heinicke, ODU look to cruise past Liberty

Norfolk, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - It's not often a player wins the Walter Payton Award, returns to school the next season and somewhat flies under the radar.

It's happened for Old Dominion junior quarterback Taylor Henicke, whose team is an FCS independent this season during its transition into the FBS as a member of Conference USA next year. The Monarchs aren't eligible for the FCS playoffs this year, and Heinicke's name isn't found on the Payton Watch List as he and his team shift upward.

But that doesn't discourage Heinicke from his typical stat-driven play. In games against three FCS opponents this season, the Atlanta resident has thrown for 1,134 yards and nine touchdowns. Overall, he's 139-for-187 (74.3 percent) for 1,638 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions, with another 203 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, in ODU's 3-2 start.

Now Liberty, also 3-2, is on the schedule Saturday for ODU's Homecoming.

The Flames have dropped contests to Kent State and Richmond, with wins over Monmouth, Morgan State and Kentucky Wesleyan. As one of the preseason favorites to take the Big South Conference title, Liberty has to endure a tough few games against Old Dominion and Heinicke, Coastal Carolina and Gardner-Webb with a bye week separating the ODU and CCU contests.

The focus for the Flames this week is Heinicke, and how to limit his production. Their defense has only given up more than 20 points to an opponent once this season (the 30-21 loss to Richmond) and will need a similar performance on Saturday.

10/03 06:02:38 ET

Walter Payton Award
Year Winner Votes Finalists Misc
2013 Jimmy Garoppolo Votes 2013 History
2012 Taylor Heinicke Votes 2012 Past
2011 Bo Levi Mitchell Votes 2011 Winners
Buck Buchanan Award
Year Winner Votes Finalists Misc
2013 Brad Daly Votes 2013 History
2012 Caleb Schreibeis Votes 2012 Past
2011 Matt Evans Votes 2011 Winners
Eddie Robinson Award
Year Winner Votes Finalists Misc
2013 Craig Bohl Votes 2013 History
2012 Craig Bohl Votes 2012 Past
2011 Rob Ambrose Votes 2011 Winners
Jerry Rice Award
Year Winner Votes Finalists Misc
2013 Cooper Kupp Votes 2013 History
2012 John Robertson Votes 2012 Past
2011 Terrance West Votes 2011 Winners
Breaking The Line
by Samuel G. Freedman
Samuel G. Freedman's "Breaking The Line" vividly recreates the world of black college football in the civil rights era with a gripping chronicle of the 1967 season for coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling State and Alonzo S. "Jake" Gaither at Florida A&M.