Each week, we ask five of our sportswriters five questions about Ohio athletics. Their answers may surprise you. This week, we talked to sports editor Alex Hider, assistant editor Katie Hendershot, soccer writer Bez Saciri, hockey writer Josh Yost, and columnist Michael Garr.
Ohio football barely got by North Texas last week. Are they in trouble this week against Rakeem Cato and Marshall?
Alex Hider: The Bobcats are in for a rough weekend. Last season, Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato torched Ohio’s secondary on his way to 432 yards passing and a record-breaking 44 completions. Ohio’s secondary, which is, for the most part, unchanged from last season, will have its hands full yet again. In addition, eight of Marshall’s nine offensive and defensive lineman return for the Thundering Herd, giving them a huge advantage in the interior. The Bobcats can only hope Tyler Tettleton has enough magic leftover from last season’s victory. He’s owned Marshall in the last two “Battle of the Bell” matchups.
Katie Hendershot: Though Ohio was able to come away with a win against Marshall in the past two “Battle of the Bell” showdowns, this year could prove to be a challenge for the Bobcats, who have struggled so far this season. Led by Rakeem Cato, the Thundering Herd has had two monster games to start the season. Defense will be crucial this week, as Cato threw for 250 yards in week one against Miami. If the Bobcats want to keep the Bell at home, they will have to keep a close eye on Cato. If it’s anything like last year, the two teams will fight the whole game and the fourth quarter will prove to be decisive.
Bez Saciri:Yes and No. There is no doubt that Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato is supremely talented, but Ohio is ready to prove that last season’s 27-24 victory in Huntington was no fluke. The last time Cato came to
Athens, the Bobcats earned a 44-7 victory, which should give the team hope of beating Marshall again. As long as running back Beau Blankenship can get the carries and numbers he is used to, and wide receivers Chase Cochran and Donte Foster make big plays in the passing game, Ohio will be able to stay in the game. The question will be how the defense reacts to Cato. They did a poor job most of the game last season, but an early turnover on Saturday could shake Cato’s confidence in front of a hostile crowd at Peden.
Josh Yost: Yes they are. Last season, Cato was able to tear apart an experienced defense with a much more aggressive front seven. This season, the Bobcats have seemed to be hesitant in reading the plays and cutting off route runners. Against North Texas, there were a lot of incompletions from drops that the defense should not have allowed. Not to mention, the offense is stagnant and features a newly hesitant Tyler Tettleton. If the Bobcats want to pull this off, they have to be getting pressure on Cato and get Tettleton moving into space, forcing the defense to treat him as a running threat again.
Michael Garr: I hate to sound so negative, but yes, the Bobcats are in trouble. Through two games the Herd has outscored their opponents 107-14. They didn’t play Alabama and Oregon, mind you, but that’s still impressive. Rakeem Cato has thrown six TDs and only one pick in the two contests and has looked really sharp in the early part of this 2013 season. This won’t be impossible, like the Louisville game, but it will be a tough test for the Bobcats.
Volleyball knocked off No. 8 Oregon in Eugene in straight sets, but dropped a tough five-set match to North Carolina. Is this team for real?
Hider: Ohio has only lost three games this season. All of them came against North Carolina. In the five matches they’ve won this season, they’ve won all of them in straight sets. This team has a chance to be one of the most dominant teams in coach Ryan Theis’ tenure. However, they must overcome a huge injury to first team all-MAC star Chelsea Bilger. We’ll see how they respond this weekend when they take on No. 24 Western Kentucky in Bowling Green.
Hendershot: North Carolina has proven to be the Bobcats’ only challenge so far this season. Following a rich tradition of winning for Ohio volleyball, this season could be another successful year for the Green and White. The volleyball team looks like they’re for real this year after play against Oregon. It’s still early in the season, but if they can continue their winning ways, it will be a good season for the Bobcats. Though not landing in the Division 1 rankings this week, Ohio did receive votes with 58 points.
Saciri: I believe they are. It takes talent and determination to take down a top-10 team in any collegiate sport, and by beating Oregon in Eugene, the Bobcats proved they have the talent to have another special season. Head coach Ryan Theis does a great job getting his team motivated and ready for matches, and if he continues to do that, this team will win a lot more often this season. Kelly Lamberti has continued to put in great performances for the team, as well as Alexis Pinson and Estonia international Liis Kullerkann. Katie Horton and Meredith Ashy are ones for the future for Ohio volleyball.
Yost: Absolutely. The match against North Carolina was a tough one to lose, but also came with a difficult injury that they struggled adjusting from. After the intermission, they struggled to move their attack to the outsides. At this point, they’re still being aggressive and still a high-ranking team in the nation. They’re going to only get better as the season goes along, and use that loss to North Carolina as a learning opportunity.
Garr: This volleyball team is for real. Although they lost to UNC, they took it to five sets. UNC is a top 25 team, so that’s not a bad loss. Along with Oregon, the Bobcats were able to take down UC and Dayton over the weekend, which are both very good teams. Head coach Ryan Theis has had a great track record at OU and knows how to win games. This should be a fun season for the volleyball team.
Field Hockey has only three home games this season (and none until October) due to repairs to Pruitt Field. How well can this team preform without a home-field advantage?
Hider: It will be a challenge for Ohio Field Hockey to remain competitive without a home stadium. They still have a seven-hour trip to Evanston, Illinois; a five-hour trip to Bloomington, Indiana; and a three-hour trip to Pittsburgh before they play their first home game in early October. However, this is an experienced team just a few years removed from an NCAA Tournament run. They’ll need a ton of focus to recover from a 1-3 start.
Hendershot: Through the first four games of the season, the field hockey team has seen some tough challenges. Their schedule pays them no favors by having them on the road until October. When the Bobcats do finally make it home, they will take on Miami to open MAC play. The team has been strong the past few years and was picked second in the MAC preseason poll. It’s not too late for the team to turn the season around, but they won’t be able to rely on home field advantage.
Saciri: In the beginning, it will be tough, but when they get to conference play, it should be a little easier on them. With the circumstances they are under, the leadership skills of players such as Katie Fenzel and Jessica Jue will be tested. They are familiar with the teams in their conference, and that should help them adapt to the situation. Besides Fenzel and Jue, Riley Higgins and Andrea Biegalski will have to play well. There is a lot of talent in the squad, which will also help them do well. Luli Gomez Teruel is a proven goal scorer and Adele Sammons is solid at the back. Not only is this hard to take for the seniors, but also it is hard for the freshman, as well, which include players: Cameryn Curry, Kristen Buchanan, Hannah Kingsbury and German import Franziska Schmiedel.
Yost: It’s going to be a long and difficult season for Field Hockey. They’ve had some bright spots, notably Luli Gomez Teruel, but the season has just been a major struggle for them with all the travel. They’re only 1-3, and their one victory was a hard-fought 2-1 game that could’ve gone either way in the second half. Aside from that, they’ve been blown out and have yet to score more than two goals in one game. If they can get their offense going and capitalize on their corner opportunities, they may be able to pull it together.
Garr: They did okay on the road last year, going 4-4 on the season. This year they’ve started the season 1-3, and because they go on the road so much, I think they’ll have a tough time. The long trip to Boston didn’t work out well for the Bobcats and later this year they have a long road to Springfield, Missouri. It might just be one of those years.
Ohio soccer coach Aaron Rodgers is a hardcore Liverpool fan. Do you have a favorite soccer club, and why?
Hider: Before coming to college, I knew only two things about Premier League soccer. I knew that Manchester United was like the New York Yankees of Europe, and I knew the owner the Cleveland Browns also owned a soccer team. As a die-hard Browns fan, the choice was obvious: Aston Villa was my team. Since then, I have not been surprised to learn that Randy Lerner is just as terrible at running a soccer team as he was running the Browns. But since I’ve been following Villa, I’ve grown to appreciate soccer in a new way.
Hendershot: Strangely enough, I don’t have a favorite soccer club, though I definitely should. I need to work on that. I played soccer for 13 years but never paid much attention to professional soccer. I am excited for the World Cup in Brazil next summer though, especially now that the U.S. qualified. If anyone wants to start lobbying for why I should start following their personal favorite team, I’m all ears. I think it’s time for me to embrace the professional side of soccer.
Saciri: My favorite soccer club is Juventus, which is a club based in Torino, Italy. The Italian giants have won 29 Serie A titles and won the Champions League in 1985 and 1996. They are the favorites to win the Serie A title for the third-straight season. When I was younger, one of my family members, who live in Italy, came to visit my grandfather and as a present she gave me a Juventus soccer ball. I still have it, and I intend to keep it for the rest of my life. I recently acquired a Juventus home jersey, and I plan to keep that for some time, as well. I am hoping Argentina international Carlos Tevez has a great first season at the Juventus Stadium.
Yost: My favorite soccer club is probably the same as a lot of Americans, I root for the United States. The World Cup is when I can finally get into soccer and really enjoy it. While I do think that it’s an incredible sport, I don’t have a connection to a team until I can cheer on my home nation. By this summer I expect to be enthralled by soccer and wondering why I never paid attention to it before, then next fall I’ll be wondering why I liked it so much in the summer. That is, unless the Columbus Crew win, then I usually get an e-mail about free pizza. They’re a close second for my favorite team just for the pizza factor.
Garr: I want to have a favorite soccer club. I’ve been known for cheering for teams that I really have no connection with(The Milwaukee Bucks) (EDITOR’S NOTE: ?????). I figure if I can do that, I can focus my attention on a soccer club too. The problem is I still don’t know which one. I’ve always liked Chelsea because of their blue jerseys, but if I start actually cheering for them I’ll quickly lose all my friends. I’m interested in Stoke City, Everton and Sunderland, but I’ll have to do some research before I make my decision (which will be featured in an hour long segment on ESPN, obviously).
If you could only eat one for the rest of your life, which would you choose: cake or pie?
Hider: I am a cake man for one reason and one reason only: My grandma’s chocolate icing recipe. It’s been adorning chocolate birthday cakes since I was born, and I can’t imagine living in a world without it. But don’t worry pie people, I respect y’all. We can still be friends.
Hendershot: Cake. Is there any question? There are just endless possibilities with cake. Of all the pies, I really only like apple, so there really is no other choice.
Saciri: This is a close one, but I have to go with cake. Some pies are delicious, but I can use cake for many occasions, including my birthday. In my household, we typically use cake for almost every special holiday, except for Thanksgiving. I have never tasted a bad cake. Whether it is a red velvet cake or a lemon cake, I have liked them all. It can go with any meal, and after you eat it, you feel better afterward. Pumpkin and Apple pies are incredibly delicious, but as a whole, I have to go with cake.
Yost: This is such a difficult decision to make. Both of them have chocolate, and that would normally be the route I go. Cake can come in an ice cream form and a cookie form, which makes it seem so much better. Then you realize, pie is probably the ultimate utility player able to be morphed into apple, cherry, strawberry, or any other forms you’d like. There’s so many pie flavors and not enough cake flavors, I have to side with pie on this one.
Garr: Is this even a question? The answer is pie. Not even close. Blueberry, apple, pumpkin, banana cream, cherry, the flavors are endless. Cake is good, but pie takes the cake.