Two first-year starters. One definitely played the part.
Last Saturday night at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio, Marshall true freshman Rakeem Cato showed his inexperience as Ohio flustered the quarterback into four first-half interceptions.
The first pick was not totally Cato's fault as the ball was tipped before reaching its intended receiver. The next three? Let's just say they were ill-advised throws.
"Obviously, Marshall would complete some passes, but as well as our defensive backs had been playing there was going to be times where they would get to the ball," Ohio linebacker Noah Keller said following the Bobcats' 44-7 victory over the Thundering Herd. "We had to make sure not to let things get behind us and not bite on play-action. I think we did a good job on limiting those explosive type passes."
Ohio sophomore Tyler Tettleton was also making just his third start as a college quarterback. The opposing sidelines are only 53 yards apart, but the difference in performances between Tettleton and Cato might as well been 53 miles. There was that much disparity as Cato completed just one pass to his own teammate in the first quarter and just five by intermission.
"(Cato) threw a couple of passes early in the game he probably wished he could have taken back," Ohio coach Frank Solich said. "When it went bad, it's tough. We had seen him play some really good football - he certainly played it on his first start (against West Virginia University) and he played really well against Southern Miss.
"So he is really good, but he just had a tough night as a young quarterback."
If nerves were an issue for Tettleton before the start of his regular-season debut at New Mexico State more than two weeks ago, they didn't surface against Marshall. The native of Norman, Okla., shredded the Herd defense for 259 passing yards and three touchdowns in the first half.
He also rushed for 51 yards and another TD as the Bobcats built a 34-7 cushion.
"Tyler has been impressive this year and keeps getting better," Solich said. "He's a very calm and composed young man, and knows our offense. He doesn't let anything get him down and that's a key to the quarterback position.
"If you keep from getting down and your body language is positive to your teammates no matter what is going on, you have a chance to have that group rally around you. And the players really believe in him."
The players did not receive their new duds until 2 hours before gametime and Solich made sure his team didn't forget about the task at hand.
"The only problem is that you still have to kick the ball and play the game," he said. "As a coach, you are always worried about when they saw the new uniforms. As a coach, if it is good for the players and good for recruits then you're OK with it."
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