Fresh off of a big home win over Jacksonville, the New Orleans VooDoo make a long trip against tall odds to battle perennial power San Jose this Saturday.
Game time is 9:30 p.m. at HP Pavilion and you can listen to the game live on Rush Radio 99.5, WRNO and on-line at www.wrno.com.
San Jose is one of the best franchises in the AFL. Under current coach Darren Arbet, the SaberCats won Arena Bowls in 2002, 2004 and 2007. They won the 2007 title in New Orleans over Columbus before losing the Arena Bowl in New Orleans in 2008 to Philadelphia. in his 12th year at the helm, Arbet is an AFL Hall of Fame inductee and a two-time AFL Coach of the Year.
The SaberCats are 10-6, coming off of an impressive 75-61 win at Chicago. They are ranked fifth in this week's AFL Coaches' Power Poll. The VooDoo are up to eighth in the same poll.
Quarterback Mark Grieb is a virtual legend in Arena Football.
A 12-year veteran, Grieb leads one of the most potent offenses in the AFL. The SaberCats are second in the league in scoring, averaging 68.6 points per game and lead the league in first downs with 386.
Grieb has completed 424-of-632 passes (67%) for 5,217 yards and 99 touchdowns with 18 interceptions. Grieb is second in the league in completion percentage and yards per game (326.1) and ranks second in total offense. He became the first player in AFL history to throw for 4,000 yards in five consecutive seasons in 2008 and is the only quarterback to throw for 70 or more touchdowns in seven consecutive seasons.
In the win at Chicago, Grieb connected on 29-of-36 passes for 360 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for a seventh score.
Samora Goodson is the leading receiver with 94 catches for 1,279 yards and 25 touchdowns while James Roe has 80 receptions for 897 yards and 25 scores. Fred Williams had a breakout performance in the win over the Rush, earning JLS Ironman of the Week honors from the AFL with 11 catches for 164 yards and three touchdowns, rushed twice for five yards and a score and five kick returns for 100 yards, including a 57-yard return for a touchdown. He forced a fumble on special teams.
Mark Lewis has rushed for 10 touchdowns. Former VooDoo fullback/offensive lineman Tommy Taggart was playing well for San Jose, rushing for 11 touchdowns, but left with an injury against Arizona on May 5 and just returned to action last week after being on injured reserve. He is expected to play against his former team.
Defensive lineman Joe Sykes is a menace to opposing quarterbacks. Sykes leads the AFL with 15.5 sacks. Linebacker Francis Maka is tied for ninth in the league with 6.5 sacks and has three fumble recoveries. San Jose has an AFL-leading 35 sacks total, a real concern for New Orleans. Defensive lineman Gabe Nyenhuis and Sykes are tied for second in the league with five forced fumbles.
If there is any weakness with San Jose, it might be in the secondary.
Vince Hill has four interceptions while Andre Jones has three, including one returned for a touchdown. Hill leads the team with 78.5 tackles with Jones second at 69 stops. To that end, the SaberCats brought back defensive back Melvin Brookins recently. Brookins played for San Jose in 2011
The SaberCats have returned four kicks for touchdowns with very good special teams.
Kicker Nich Pertuit is deadly on extra points, converting nearly 91 percent (96-of-106). Pertuit is 1-of-2 on field goal attempts.
The SaberCats allowing 59.2 points per game, ranked 15th of the 17 teams in the AFL. San Jose is a minus -2 in turnover ratio while the VooDoo continue to lead the league at plus -21.
The VooDoo have won three straight games for the first time this year to get to 8-7 and first place in the American Conference South Division. The VooDoo downed Jacksonville 65-55 at New Orleans Arena last Saturday night to move into first place.
Quarterback Kurt Rocco continues his outstanding play for New Orleans. In the win over Jacksonville, Rocco was 18-of-33 for 262 yards and seven touchdowns with one interception while rushing for an eighth score.
For the season, Rocco has completed 338-of-554 passes (61%) for 4,545 yards with 89 touchdowns and just 14 interceptions.
New Orleans features a balanced attack with three receivers well over 1,000 yards in reception yardage for the season.
L.J. Castile has 95 catches for 1,104 yards and 23 touchdowns, Josh Bush has 90 receptions for 1,355 yards and 29 scores and Quorey Payne has 89 catches for 1,191 yards and 22 touchdowns. Joe Alajajian has rushed for 10 touchdowns while Rocco has six rushing touchdowns.
Defensively, New Orleans has been tremendous at creating turnovers and outstanding the red zone.
Alvin Ray Jackson is tied for the league lead with 12 interceptions while Jeremy Kellem now has nine following his two interceptions in the win over the Sharks. Demarcus Robinson has added five interceptions as New Orleans has 33 on the year and ranks third in the league in pass defense efficiency and second in red zone defense, allowing opponents to score 72.2 percent of the time in the red zone.
Kellem leads the team with 86 tackles while Robinson has 73.5 and Jackson has 57.5. Michael Janac has 3.5 sacks while Marlon Favorite and Xavier Brown each have three.
New Orleans had its first kick return for a score in the win over Jacksonville as Jamaal Fudge returned an onside kick seven yards for a touchdown.
In his first game, Gary Cismesia provided a lift to a kicking game that has struggled all season long, making 8-of-9 extra points and drilling a 30-yard field goal.
New Orleans averages 54.9 points while allowing 53.8 points per game.
The VooDoo are 4-3 on the road, including three consecutive road victories. Against the more powerful National Conference, the VooDoo are just 1-4, with a win at Utah and losses to San Antonio (twice), Spokane and Arizona. A win in California against an outstanding team would further signal that New Orleans is a team to be taken seriously come playoff time and would go a long way toward a South Division title.
|< Prev||Next >|