The Marietta College football team will open up the home portion of its schedule Saturday when Capital University visits Don Drumm Stadium in a battle of teams looking for their first victory under a new head coach.
The Pioneers dropped a 37-16 decision on the road two weeks ago at Case Western Reserve in Andy Waddle's first game as the MC head football coach. The Crusaders did not fare much better, getting blanked 20-0 by Thomas More in head coach Craig Candeto's Capital debut.
Both squads are coming off a bye week after struggling week one, and Waddle is anticipating a lot of excitement for the game Saturday.
JORDAN HOLLAND The Marietta Times
Marietta College’s Tom Fulton drops back to pass during a practice this summer at Don Drumm Stadium. Fulton is the running to start under center for the Pioneers Saturday in their home opener against Capital.
"I expect both teams to be tremendously fired up for the OAC opener," Waddle said. "Being at home for the first time is a great motivator for our guys."
Marietta started sophomore Axten Franzoy under center against Case Western. Franzoy struggled at times, completing 9-of-23 passes for 60 yards and two interceptions. Senior Tom Fulton came on late in the game and moved the offense a little bit better, going 10-for-13 for 91 yards and a touchdown, with no picks. Fulton also ran for a score, matching the team's total number of rushing touchdowns from a year ago.
Waddle said the status at the quarterback position is still uncertain.
"As of (Wednesday), both guys are still taking reps," said the first-year head coach. "Both can do different things for us."
Waddle said a starter will be determined later in the week.
Tim Connor got the bulk of the carries for Marietta in week one, rushing 18 times for 43 yards. As a team, the Pios' 69 rushing yards, a number they would like to see improve against the Crusaders.
Against Case Western, the Marietta receiving duo of Kirby Harris and Tannon Roberts was held to just 47 yards on eight receptions. Tight end Josh Llaneza led the team with 65 yards on six catches and a score.
Capital had attempted passes from three different players in its season opener, the most coming from Alex Nydza, who was 2-for-8 for 21 yards and an interception. Nydza also led the team with 51 rushing yards.
Overall, the Crusaders gained just 190 yards of offense against Thomas More.
So with both teams struggling offensively in week one, what changes need to be made for the Pioneers?
"Like always, field position is a big part of the game," Waddle said. "It can happen a few different ways. One, creating turnovers as well as not giving them away. We were minus-3 against Case Western.
"Also we have to get better on special teams and control the line of scrimmage. We've got to be better on both lines, attacking and controlling the line of scrimmage."