04/24/2009 2:40 PM
Under pressure: With a potent Stockton offense, the Spokane Shock defense will have to keep heavy pressure on QB Andy Collins.
In seven meetings with tonight’s opponent, the Stockton Lightning, the Spokane Shock have never lost but that doesn’t mean that Head Coach Adam Shackleford is taking them lightly.
“Winning Division Championships mean that you have to win Division games. That’s what makes this game more important than the others outside of our Division,” Adam Shackleford explained. “We know that this is a good team and we have to be ready for them.”
In their first meeting of the season, the Shock defeated the Lightning 59-45 in Spokane. Coming into that game, Head Coach Adam Shackleford had a lot of questions not only about his team but about the Lightning; primarily because it was the Shock’s first game of the season and Stockton’s second.
“I think that coming in to the last game, there were a lot of ‘unknowns.’ Last time, we had only one game tape of them and this time we have three,” Shackleford said. “We feel more prepared this time around because we have more film on them.”
With Stockton’s potent offense, averaging 56 points per game (seventh in the league), much of that preparation has centered on QB Andy Collins.
“Andy’s going to get his numbers. He’s going to hurt you here and there. You just have to limit what he does,” Shackleford said. “We also know that at some point he’s going to take a chance with the football, because he has shown that in every game. We just have to limit our mistakes and take advantage of theirs.”
In their first meeting of the season, Collins took a chance with the football when he was flushed out of the pocket and turned it into a 42-yard run – his biggest of the season. WR Justin Taplin has become one of Collins’ favorite targets this season leading the team in receptions (30), receiving yards (336) and touchdowns (9). Earlier this season against the Shock, Taplin collected 13 receptions (he averages 10/game, sixth in the league) for 168 yards with five touchdowns. The team’s second leading receiver, Troy McBroom, isn’t far behind Taplin’s pace. McBroom has already collected 24 receptions – including five touchdowns – for 282 yards. Earlier this week, Stockton placed the team’s third receiver, Reuben Jackson, on injured-reserve and activated Andre Taylor from that list. This will be Taylor’s first game of the season.
Spokane’s offense is also battling some injuries at the receiver position. Two weeks ago WR Andy Olson suffered a knee injury that will keep him out of this week’s game for the second week in a row. WR Charles Dillon suffered a chest injury in last week’s win over the Burn in Boise, but not before he recorded three touchdowns. Enter WR Markee White.
After spending four weeks of the season on the IR, White was activated on Thursday. The 6’7” rookie finished a decorated collegiate career at Texas State University where he stared in both football and basketball. In his senior season, White led the Bobcats with 56 receptions – including five touchdowns – and was named first-team all conference. This will be White’s first start (and game) of his af2 career.
Lining up alongside of White, will be second-year veteran WR Patrick Bugg, who led the receiving corps in touchdowns receptions with four last week, and WR Raul Vijil, who leads the team in virtually every receiving category including receptions (21), and all-purpose yards (366) this season.
With two of the strongest offenses in the af2, tonight’s divisional match-up should be a high scoring shoot-out. What separates the winner from the loser should come down which team will be able to capitalize on the other’s mistakes.
“They are going to make their points, they are going to make their plays – we just have to make more of them,” Shackleford said.
Pregame coverage starts at 6:30 on 105.7 THE PEAK
or stop by Hereos and Legends for the watch party