Friday, May 4, 2012
Georgia Force @ Pittsburgh Power Preview
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Don't worry we won't find out the answer to that question this week when the Georgia Force (3-4) travels to Pittsburgh to take on the Power (2-5) in an American Conference matchup.
Georgia has hardly been unstoppable on offense lately, scoring 51 points COMBINED in their last two games. Not surprisingly they lost both games. The Power do more closely resemble an immovable object, at least in AFL terms, as they rank 1st in total yardage defense. They also come into this matchup ranked second in the league in red zone defense.
Georgia's starting quarterback R.J. Archer missed last weeks game due to injury, and his status is still up in the air for this matchup. If Archer cannot go the start will go to Kevin Eakin, who was was only able to throw for 223 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions in last week's 60-27 loss to the Arizona Rattlers.
Also sitting this game out will be Force rookie wide receiver Brandon McRae. The Force will have to rely heavily on their top receiver Larry Shipp, Jr. He ranks amongst the league leaders with 65 receptions (5th), 790 yards (5th), and 15 TD's (9th). The 3rd year player is also used for trick plays from occasion so the Power need to keep an eye on him
Georgia also brings a member of the 2010 and 2011 All-Ironman team with them in the form of kick returner/wide receiver C.J. Johnson. While his 37 catches for 332 yards and 5 TD's might not jump out at you in this league, his 34 returns for 706 yards and a score do. Pittsburgh needs to tighten up the kickoff coverage with him on the field.
Defensively for the Force, they boast the league's top man in the interception department. Tracy Belton already has eight interceptions before the halfway mark of the 2012 season and is leading the Force with 44 tackles and 6 passes blocked. Fellow defensive back Marrio Norman has four interceptions so far this year and both form a strong pass defense tandem.
Pittsburgh will once again roll with quarterback Bryan Randall at the helm. Randall started off last week very strong but had a few critical interceptions. His play could improve but there's a lot of potential from the former IFL MVP. He'll look to build upon his chemistry with reigning AFL Playmaker of the Week Mike "The Joystick" Washington. Washington caught 13 passes for 170 yards and three touchdowns in the loss to Cleveland last week.
Power defensive back Chris LeFlore has registered an interception in three straight games now and has already broken Josh Lay's record for most interceptions in a season by a Power defensive back. He'll look to extend that record against Georgia.
A wild card in this game could be newly signed Power kicker Raymond "Trey" Kramer. Kramer is playing his first season of American football. I'm not just talking professionally, this year is his first attempt at the game period. The Marion Blue Racers of the UIFL gave the diamond in the rough a chance and he rewarded them by kicking a league record 55 yard field goal and was named the Special teams player of the week 3 times. Through 6 games with the Blue Racers he converted 26 of 32 extra points and 6 of 13 field goals.
Overall this game is going to feature two offenses that have struggled mightily overall this year. Pittsburgh is still searching for the long term answer at quarterback and hopes that Randall is the man. Without McRae in the Georgia offense, I think the Power have a few more weapons on their side which should be an advantage. Pittsburgh also has the homefield advantage in this one which cannot be discounted.
Defensively, the Force are better at causing turnovers, which could favor them slightly. If Pittsburgh can limit the self-inflicted wounds they should win easily. I don't think they will avoid the turnover battle completely so this one should remain interesting.