05/02/2008 10:00 AM
Life is never easy for a Renegade. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Renegades had an undefeated record and were becoming one of the hottest teams in the league. Then, in week four, the Renegades were handed their first loss of the season to the defending Champion – and currently number one ranked team – the Tulsa Talons, 53-69.
It doesn’t get any easy for the Renegades this week, as they are hosting the second best team in league, the Spokane Shock. For the second-year franchise, this game will be an opportunity to prove that they belong amongst the elite teams in the league.
The potent offense of the Renegades is averaging nearly 60 points/game (59.8 points/game), and is currently ranked second in the league in that category. The Shock are nipping at their heels and are ranked third in the league averaging 57.8 points/game. A large portion of the Renegades offensive success is their efficient offense inside the red zone. Through the first four games of the season, they have converted on every opportunity (13/13) they have had inside the red zone coming away with 13 touchdowns and the number one ranking in the league in that category.
Renegade QB Robert Kent has already thrown for nearly 1,000 yards (939) with 21 touchdown passes and only one interception. His passing yardage per game, 234.8 yards/game is rated ninth in the league. A big part of Kent’s success can be attributed to the talented trio of receivers he has around him. Led by John King, the Renegades starting receiving core has combined for 16 touchdowns, and 53 receptions. The Shock will counter with a secondary that leads the league in interceptions, thanks in part to rookie sensation Sergio Gilliam who leads the league with seven interceptions. Gilliam and the rest of the Shock defense have only given up an average of 37.8 points per game – the sixth lowest total in the league.
“We have to match their scores and take care of the football,” Head Coach Adam Shackleford. “I think the biggest thing we need our guys to understand is that this is a quality opponent far away from home.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Shackleford is expecting his offensive line to improve the protection they have given to starting QB Jason Murrietta. Over the first two games of the season, the offensive line was impenetrable and did not give up a single sack. However, in their last two games, the Shock’s offensive line has given up five sacks. The Renegades defensive line has been credited with three total sacks this season.
“One of the keys to winning this game is to give Jason adequate protection,” Shackleford said. “If we can do that, our offense will be very dangerous.”
Over the last two games, Murrietta has completed nearly 60% of his passes (40/68, 59%) with 436 yards and 10 touchdowns. In each of those games, a different receiver has had an outstanding performance. In week four, against the Tri-Cities Fever, it was Kelvin Dickens who stepped up with 10 receptions for 123 yards and one touchdown. While last week, it was WR Raul Vijil who stepped up with 11 receptions, 135 receiving yards (245 all-propose yards) and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, rookie WR Andy Olson has quietly racked up six touchdown receptions (2nd on the team) with 159 yards on the season and seems ready for a break-out game.
It should be an old fashioned shoot-out deep in the heart of Texas: #2 Spokane against #5 Lubbock. We’ll see you at high-noon…or at 4:30 for the pregame show with Larry Weir and Bob Castle only on 101.1 FM.