Saturday, June 2, 2012
Pittsburgh Power at Arizona Rattlers Preview
It's time to start over for the Pittsburgh Power. While they can't erase their 2-8 start to the season, they did make a change at head coach. Chris Siegfried is gone and will be replaced by interim head coach Derek Stingley. Stingley is a former AFL standout and does have some head coaching experience in the league, having gone 2-12 last year for the New Orleans VooDoo.
The Power have also brought in Mike Tomczak to be the new offensive coordinator. The move is a curious one, as Tomczak has zero experience with the indoor game. The thought behind the move is that Tomczak, as a former pro quarterback, will help develop the Power quarterbacks. It is a quarterback driven league after all.
I'm not sure the Power could have drawn a harder test for this new configuration of coaches than having to go and face the 8-3 Arizona Rattlers on the road. The Rattlers boast the top scoring offense in the league at 67.1 PPG
Arizona features reigning league MVP Nick Davila who is having another fantastic season. He's currently third in the league with 3323 yards, 3rd in completion percentage (68.1%), 2nd in touchdowns (77), and 1st in QB rating (127.0). He's also thrown just 10 interceptions through 11 games, which is very good by arena standards.
The Rattlers also have standout receiver Maurice Purify, the reigning Aaron's Rookie of the Year and a 2011 second team all arena WR. The 6'3" Nebraska product is 2nd in the league in yards (1411) and 2nd in receiving TD's (38). He's been nearly impossible to cover in his two AFL seasons.
Keep an eye on Rattlers WR Kerry Reed as well. He's also got great size (6'2") and ability as well as a big school pedigree from Michigan State. He's got 53 receptions for 823 yards and 19 TD's this year for the Rattlers.
Arizona fullback Odie Armstrong currently ranks 2nd in rushing yards (162) and 3rd in rushing TD's (11). At 5'11" 260 pounds he's not the usual giant fullback that most teams choose to employ. He has elusive running ability and can make you pay if you don't focus on containing him.
Pittsburgh has announced that Bryan Randall will take the reigns as quarterback again this week, despite being benched in the loss to Kansas City two weeks ago. Randall is quietly putting up some very good stats for the Power. In his four games as a starter, Randall is 96 for 139 (69.1%) for 1083 yards, 20 TD's and 4 interceptions. His biggest problem has been fumbles. If he can learn to control the ball better while scrambling he has the ability to become a big time AFL quarterback.
The Power love to spread the ball around to their talented receivers. P.J. Berry, the reigning JLS Ironman of the Year, is once again leading the league in all-purpose yardage. He has 1269 yards in returns and 2 TD's, to go with 741 yards receiving and 9 TD's.
Mike "The Joystick" Washington has 64 receptions for 862 yards and 20 TD's (12th in the AFL) and Oderick Turner has been strong since returning from injury a few weeks ago. He has 309 yards receiving and 4 TD's in just a few games of action this year.
The Power also signed A.J. Jackson this week, a 6'4" receiver out of California (Pa.) University. If activated, he could bring a whole new dimension to the Power offense. He's got great playmaking ability but the knock on him in the past has been his focus.
Defensively the Rattlers might give up big chunks of passing yardage, but they are also good at forcing turnovers. The Rattlers have recorded 14 interceptions this year. Randall will need to stay very aware of where Arkeith Brown (5 INT), Marquis Floyd (3 INT), and Virgil Gray (2 INT) are. The Rattlers also force a lot of fumbles, which is bad news for the fumble-prone Power.
Pittsburgh's only chance of winning this game is to rely on their passing defense,which is tops in the league. If the Power can somehow hold the Rattlers in check and minimize their own mistakes, we might have a game on our hands. Prior history tells us otherwise.
Too much is going against Pittsburgh in this one for me to have much faith in them pulling out a victory. I think Arizona has a huge edge at quarterback, they have the homefield advantage, and they also have more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. It's one thing to have the top yardage defense in the league, it's another to have the better defense at forcing turnovers.
Don't expect a miracle....
THE VOICE SAYS....Arizona 65, Pittsburgh 48