Updated Sat, Nov 9, 2013 9:54 am
After having their Senior Day spoiled by Baldwin Wallace last week, the Marietta Pioneers (1-7) look to rebound this Saturday against the Otterbein Cardinals (4-4). The Pioneers travel to Westerville, Ohio, to face the Cardinals who want to send their seniors out on a positive note on their senior day at Memorial Stadium.
In order to shoot down the Cardinals on their Senior Day, Marietta must force Otterbein to turn the ball over and limit its own turnovers, including interceptions. Stopping Otterbein’s quarterback, and running the ball effectively are key factors for the Pios heading into this week nine matchup.
It is important for Marietta to force turnovers from the Cardinals in order to pick up its second win this season. This is vital for the Pioneers because the Cards only have six turnovers so far this year, which is the fewest in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
“We need to disrupt the running backs and wide receivers when they have ball,” Marietta head coach Andy Waddle said. “Disguising coverages will help us throw them [Otterbein] off, which may just lead to turnovers.”
Of Otterbein’s six turnovers, only one is an interception while Marietta has 12 picks through eight games including three in last week’s 31-7 loss.
“The interceptions were costly, and we need to be more efficient with the ball,” Waddle said. “You never want to throw those interceptions, and perfect ball security is a goal this week.”
Aside from holding onto the ball and forcing Otterbein turnovers, Marietta needs to focus its offensive effort on running the football. The reason for this is that the Cardinals struggle in stopping the rush especially in their 19-14 victory last week over the Capital Crusaders. In its win against the Crusaders, Otterbein allowed nearly 300 yards rushing. The Cardinals have allowed teams to run all over them this season, and have only held one opponent to under 100 yards rushing. After giving up 348, 290, and 296 yards on the ground in the past three weeks, Marietta needs to find a way to capitalize on this weakness in the Cards’ defense.
Although Otterbein frequently gives up rushing yards, it does not use a run game of its own on offense. Instead, the Cardinals rely on the pass, and have 894 more passing than rushing yards this season. In their win last week, Cardinals quarterback Ben Sizemore completed 25 of 36 passes for 315 passing yards and two touchdowns. While Sizemore is the key player, he could not do it without the help of his main receiver Steven Carpenter who had nine catches last week for 134 yards, and caught both touchdowns thrown by Sizemore. Carpenter ranks third in the OAC with six receiving touchdowns, and has 13 yards per catch matching Sizemore’s 13 yards per completion. In order to stop this duo, the Pioneers need to make Sizemore uncomfortable in the pocket.
“Getting pressure on the quarterback without bringing extra guys is going to be key for us in this game,” Waddle said.
With a win, Otterbein keeps its goal of having back-to-back winning seasons alive. Marietta, however, looks to crush this dream by using an effective run game and stopping Otterbein’s aerial attack. Kickoff between the Pios and Cards is slated for 1:30 p.m.