03/16/2012 1:25 PM
Last week Brandon Thompkins played a big role in Spokane's offense with four touchdowns. PHOTO BY GARY PETERSON
When Shock fans took a look at the 2012 schedule, there was a noticeably short turnaround between week one and week two. Typically, teams will have at least six days between games, but this week the Shock will have only four days between games.
After a heartbreaking week one overtime loss, this could be a blessing in disguise for Head Coach Andy Olson and the Shock.
“It doesn’t give us any time to sulk or to be negative,” Olson explained. “We watched the film we lived our mistakes and hopefully we will learn from them. That will be the big test for us– did we learn from our mistakes? Did we improve as a group? We will see on Saturday.”
Olson’s team will be put to the test by the Talons and its veteran-laden roster for their first road game of the season in San Antonio.
As the Talons assembled their roster, there was clearly a heavy emphasis on signing veterans, as indicated by their first signing, 17-year veteran QB Aaron Garcia. Coming off of his first ArenaBowl Championship last season, Garcia’s commitment opened the door for three other Jacksonville teammates to follow suit including Jomo Wilson, Sale Key, and Jerry Brown.
Last week, Garcia and his ArenaBowl Champion teammates picked up where they left off last season and defeated the Utah Blaze, 54-48. The reigning ArenaBowl MVP ran a very efficient offense, completing 62.2% of his passes for 341 yards and eight touchdowns with only one interception. Garcia distributed the ball amongst a talented corps of receivers with Wilson and Jason Willis tying for the team lead in receptions, with eight.
Olson plans to attack this potent offense with some of the same aggression that Utah used last week against the Talons. Early in the first quarter last week, Utah pinned Garcia forcing a fumble that lead to an easy seven points for Blaze DL Mike Lewis. Two drives later, Lewis put heavy pressure on Garcia and forced him to make a bad throw that was intercepted by Blaze DB Josh Jones and allowed Utah to take their first lead of the game.
“Aaron Garcia is one of the best to ever play Arena Football. We can’t let him settle into the pocket and pick our defense apart,” Olson said. “We have got to hit Aaron Garcia and keep him under constant pressure. Whether he is throwing the ball, or whether we are sacking him, we have to hit him and rattle him.”
Last week, Spokane’s defensive line recorded one sack (by Jeremy Geathers), recorded three QB hurries (two by Pierre Walters and one by Louis Holmes) and forced two fumbles (one by Geathers and one by Jonathan Williams).
Conversely, Olson has placed a premium on protecting his rookie-QB Adam Froman. Froman is expected to be the starter after QB Erik Meyer left last week’s game in the fourth quarter after a late hit knocked him out of the game. Froman immediately stepped in and completed his first two passes to cap off a six play 34-yard scoring drive.
“We are going to have to step our game up along the offensive line to allow our QB to read the defense,” Olson explained. “San Antonio has a pass rush that just doesn’t stop. They all have high motors. When you watch last week’s game against Utah, Tommy Grady was running all over the place in the fourth quarter.”
One member of the Talons’ defensive line who will try to apply pressure to Froman is former Spokane Shock player Jon Williams. Last season with Spokane, Williams set the single season franchise record in sacks (8.5) and started out this season with one last week.
Froman will also have to contend with an opportunistic defense that forced Utah into two interceptions; one recorded by DB Ken Fontenette and the second by LB Jamar Ransom.
Spokane will counter with a receiving corps that is headlined by WR Brandon Thompkins, who already eclipsed his touchdown total from last season last week with four. Thompkins will be joined by WR Justin Ore, who led the team in receptions last week with ten, and the six-foot-five Adron Tennell who used his size to record seven receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Olson hopes that his offense jumps out of the gate with some points to put the pressure on San Antonio.
“Last week we had to play from behind almost the whole game and that’s not easy,” Olson said. “But I also saw a team that has a lot of heart. They never gave up, and they never quit. It’s easy to build on guys when they give that kind of effort. I think if we can improve mentally, we will be a dangerous football team.”
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