Sunday, May 29, 2011

Texas Style Shootout ends with a 76-75 Power Victory

It's finally safe to breathe Power fans.

For the third straight game, the Pittsburgh Power came from behind against a solid opponent to win. This time it was an epic shootout against the Dallas Vigilantes.

Trailing by 14 points at one point, Pittsburgh (6-4) managed to stop Dallas (6-5) short of the goal line to end the first half, and then recovered a fumble early in the second half. It would be JUST enough defense in this one.

The game was in doubt all the way to the end, as Dallas scored and went for two points. They had three chances at it but were unable to convert. Dallas recovered the onsides kick and moved the ball quickly downfield in the last 14 seconds to set up a 32 yard field goal attempt. Fortunately for Pittsburgh, Remy Hamilton's kick was wide right and Power fans were finally able to breathe.

Bernard Morris shook off some first half rust to finish with 280 yards and 7 scores, plus he added 41 yards and a score on the ground. "Joystick" Washington led all Power receivers with 184 yards and 5 total TD's (4 receiving, 1 rushing). Josh Rue scored for the first time since the Georgia loss, crossing the line twice for Pittsburgh.

Morris' counterpart, Dan Raudabaugh, tore the Pittsburgh secondary a new one. He threw for 433 yards and 10 TD's. Tiger Jones was the main target, with 221 yards and 4 scores. DeAndrew Rubin added 109 yards and 3 scores, and Matt Fields had 101 total yards and 2 scores.

Gary Butler's presence was clearly missed in the second half after he was ejected on the final play of the first half. Josh Lay showed some aggression in going for a pick early, but missing. He then also whiffed on a tackle which would have stopped Dallas on 4th down.

Pittsburgh came into this game with one of the least productive passing offenses, and in fact had not even crossed the 60 point plateau yet this season. They also had the 6th best scoring defense, but that rank is sure to fall a bit after this game.

All in all, this is the kind of game you are thrilled about when your team wins it, and Pittsburgh did just enough to secure victory in this one.  In the process they improved their road record to 3-1, and handed Dallas their first loss of the year at home.   Dallas still has not beaten a team with a winning record.

Cleveland fell 63-42 in Arizona, so this week's showdown between Pittsburgh and Cleveland will be for first place.  Get your tickets now and let's jam the Consol Energy Center!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Pittsburgh Power @ Dallas Vigilantes LIVE BLOG

Live Blog starts at 8 PM EST!

Pittsburgh Power @ Dallas Vigilantes Preview

American Airlines Center
8:30 EST/7:30 CST
TV:, Time Warner Cable Sports (Dallas)
Radio: 93.7 The Fan (Pittsburgh), KFXR 1190 AM (Dallas)

LIVEBLOG coverage starts at 8:00 PM EST here on "The Voice Says...."

The Pittsburgh Power enter this matchup with the Dallas Vigilantes confident after two comeback wins over Spokane and San Jose.  They are also rested coming off their second bye week of the season.

The Power defense comes into this game having given up the third lowest amount of points on the season, and they possess the 6th best scoring defense in the AFL.  They will need to be on their game if they want to contain one of the better passing attacks in the AFL.

Dallas is on a two game losing streak and hopes to turn things around by coming back home where they are 4-0 on the season.  Pittsburgh boasts a 2-1 record away from the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.  Dallas has not beaten a team with a winning record yet this season, a trend the Power hopes will continue. 

Pittsburgh quarterback Bernard Morris has been solid in his return from IR, leading the Power to those comeback wins.  He has not been perfect in either matchup, going 8 for 20 in the first half against Spokane before coming on strong in the second half.  He got the team off to a 14-0 lead before turning the ball over 4 times to let San Jose take the lead.  His 8 touchdowns were key in the win though as the offense did just enough to complement a strong defensive showing.

Mike "Joystick" Washington continued a strong season by posting 120 yards and four touchdowns.  Jason "Whatyoutalkinbout" Willis added 89 yards and three scores, including the game winner with 14 seconds left.

Dan Raudabaugh leads the Dallas offense and has thrown for 2532 yards, 47 TD’s, and 13 Interceptions.  He’s not in the upper tier of QB’s in terms of touchdowns and his 13 interceptions leave a bit to be desired.  This is a quarterback who has feasted on some weak competition.  He is not a threat to run the ball so look for the Power front 3 to try and generate the pressure they are known for and force Raudabaugh to rush his throws. 

This week the Power get to face the AFL's leading rusher, Derrick Ross.  So far this season he has 354 yards and 23 TD’s.  He’s built similarly to San Jose’s Chad Cook, who gave the Power D fits 2 weeks ago.  Pittsburgh struggles against the run and this could be a key matchup.    I can easily see Ross scoring multiple times.

Dallas has three wide receivers all having great years statistically.  On paper they dwarf the Power in terms of production, but that’s only translated to one more win at this point.  Still the ability to spread the ball around is key.  Pittsburgh struggled against Georgia, who also had this ability. 

Anthony "Tiger" Jones is a 5’10” receiver out of Louisville.  So far this year he has 1038 yards (6th in the AFL) and 20 TD’s (11th in the AFL)  A 2010 second team all arena wide receiver, he’s making a move to the elite this year.   Dallas also has Matt Fields with 766 yards and 14 TD’s, plus 5 rushing TD’s.  DeAndrew Rubin is another standout from South Florida and has amassed 770 yards and 14 TD’s this year. 

On defense, keep your eye on Chris LeFlore.  He leads the Vigilantes in tackles, has 4 interceptions, 14 passes defended, and also a forced fumble.  He’s a factor in the return game as well.   Dallas also will get a huge boost with the return of 2 time all arena mac linebacker Steve Watson, who will make his 2011 debut after being sidelined all season with a foot injury. 

This is an interesting matchup because Dallas has multiple threats which will make it tough for Pittsburgh to defend.  Pittsburgh has faced two other offenses with this much firepower, Jacksonville and Georgia, and lost both times.   Raudabaugh is not as efficient as Aaron Garcia or Brett Elliott.  Dallas also does not possess the strong defense either of those squads has.

If Bernard Morris can limit his turnovers in this one, I think the defense can cause enough chaos up front to bring home the win.  If Morris turns it over more than twice, the Power could be in trouble.

I'm still not convinced Dallas is an elite team, and until they beat a team with a winning record, I'm not alone in that regards.  I don't think they get that win this week.  Look for the Power defense to continue their strong play and once again the offense will do what it takes to secure the victory.

THE VOICE SAYS....Pittsburgh 55, Dallas 48

Thursday, May 19, 2011

First Half Grades For the Pittsburgh Power

We've reached a bye week and the mid-season point for the inaugural season for the Pittsburgh Power.  The team sits at 5-4 and possibly could have another win or two this year.  The Power have faced a lot of injuries so far this year and have managed to get through them pretty well.

How has the team done so far? Let me break it down for you.

The Power have started three quarterbacks at various points this year, and the results have been mixed.  Bernard Morris has shown the most out of the three, but even he has some warts.  He threw three interceptions in the opener against Philadelphia, including the backbreaking pick six that lost it for the Power in overtime.

Morris was knocked out halfway through the second game against Iowa, and didn't return until week 9 against Spokane.  He started off with an 8 for 20 first half in that one as the Power fell behind but to his credit he did rally the troops to a big win. 

Just this past week against San Jose, he had two horrible interceptions and 2 lost fumbles to let San Jose hang around but he kept the team focused, ended up with 8 TD's, including the game winner to Jason Willis with 14 seconds left.  He's shown some tendencies to be careless with the ball and I really feel the Power defense has bailed him out of a lot of tough situations. 

Anthony Morelli was 1-2 as the fill-in starter once Morris and McCabe went down with injuries.  He did a solid job in the loss to Jacksonville, going toe to toe with AFL legend Aaron Garcia.  Statistically they had similar games although unfortunately for Pittsburgh, the offense was stopped on downs three times. 

Morelli was named the National Guard MVP of the week for the AFL for his performance against the New Orleans Voodoo, in what has probably been the cleanest game for a Power QB this year.  Unfortunately he followed that up with a complete stinker on the road against the Georgia Force by going 22 for 41, and throwing for only 188 yards, two TD's and three interceptions.  That prompted the return to Morris at quarterback.

Kevin McCabe had a solid first half against Iowa and looked solid for much of the game against Milwaukee, but appears to be the odd man out at quarterback for the Power right now.

Overall, the Power Passing offense ranks near the bottom of the league, and the team has failed to cross the 60 point mark yet this season, which seems to be a benchmark of sorts in the AFL.  Again, while they've shown flashes of brilliance, I just don't think the quarterbacks have done enough to get more than an average grade so far this year.

Josh Rue started the year off on fire, establishing himself as the go-to threat on a team that was trying to find its way in the passing game.   The fans of Pittsburgh quickly became "Ruebirds" as his hard running, bruising style reminded fans of Jerome Bettis who suited up for that "other team" in town.  So far this year Rue has 37 carries for 90 yards and 8 TD's, plus he's added 9 catches for 75 yards and two scores through the air. 

Unfortunately he started fumbling the ball and it seems as though Coach Siegfried isn't trusting him much in key situations as the season progresses.  Xavier Lee, while still on the active roster, really seemed to supplant Rue as the short yardage threat. 

The Power quarterbacks have boosted the running game a bit, whether it's been Morris or Morelli.  Both have made huge plays with their legs.  As a team, the Power rank 3rd overall in the AFL in rushing offense, so it's hard to say they haven't had some success.

While a running attack is not always key to success in the AFL, the Power need to be able to change it up now and again, and Rue will need to pick his game back up down the stretch.  He hasn't seen the end zone since three weeks again against Georgia.

It's become a two man race for the Power wide receivers as Mike "The Joystick" Washington and Jason "Whatyoutalkingbout" Willis have separated themselves from the rest of the Power receivers.  Injuries have been to blame for some of the inconsistencies, but it's clear these two are the best the Power have.

Washington had a breakout game last week against San Jose, going off for 120 yards and 4 TD's.  His knack for making the highlight reel catch has been a welcome addition to an offense still looking for a spark overall.  He seems to have the best chemistry of all the receivers with the quarterback, and he has really improved his route running the last few weeks.  So far on the season, Washington has caught 50 catches for 590 yards and 12 TD's.  While it's not exactly league leading stats for the wide receiver position, he's been above average and improving each week. 

Willis also had a huge game last week against the SaberCats with 6 catches for 88 yards, and 3 TD's, including the game winner with 14 seconds left.  On the season he's got 63 receptions for 661 yards, and 11 TD's.  The biggest drawback I could see with Willis is that he sometimes loses focus and drops a few easy catches.  He does usually bounce back and make big catches later in the game, but these drops hurt his overall stat lines.

Lonnell DeWalt has proven himself as a strong goal line receiver, posting numbers of 22 receptions for 267 yards and 9 TD's.  He's had some big games when given the chance, but his move to jack linebacker seems to have lowered his role in the offense somewhat.  I still think he will be a solid force moving forward.

The rest of the receiving corps has been a cycle of players who have had moments of greatness, but then moved on.  Jerome Mathis has 9 catches for 128 yards and 2 TD's but is currently injured and not playing.  Xavier Lee saw a few games of action and caught 8 passes for 48 yards and 3 TD's, plus proved himself as a ground and passing threat.  Craig Fulton, Jr. and DJ Hall currently seem to be fighting for some playing time at the 3rd WR position, but haven't yet stood out very much.

Overall, the Power seem to like to spread the ball around, and the passing attack isn't focused on just one weapon.  That should be helpful moving forward as the receivers hopefully continue to grow and improve each week.


I have a positive observation about the offensive line.  They have helped pave the way for the 3rd ranked rushing attack in the AFL.   A big negative exists though as the Power rank 16th out of 18 teams in sacks against. 

Injuries have had a factor in this as the Power lost Chris Terrell, and now look to face a stretch without center Sione Ohuafi. 

The line is going to be a huge key to how well the Power finish out the second half of the season.  If they continue to give up 2-3 sacks a game, it could continue to hold the offense back.  I think if the line gets back to full strength good things will happen but for now I have to say they've done a solid job overall.

There's no other way to put it.  If Neil Purvis is in the lineup, the Power Pass rush is going to be dominant.   In the few games he missed due to injury, the drop was noticeable, although the line has done a solid job regardless.  The last two games in particular have shown the Power getting to the quarterbacks early and often.  It clearly threw Spokane's Kyle Rowley off his game, and even this past week, Mark Grieb was forced to throw the ball early which led to several turnovers on downs.

Abe Koroma, Terrance Carter, Dayon Benson, Anthony DeGrate, and Purvis.  Whoever lines up on the line has done a pretty good job against all comers this year except for Jacksonville.  Don't judge them by sack totals, as it is very hard to get to the quarterback in this leaguwe with all the rules put in place to benefit the offense. 

This group has done a phenomenal job so far this year and I am going to give them a strong grade as a result.

Gary Butler is the clear cut leader on this defense.  His emotions and wrecking ball style of play have set a strong tone for the Power defense so far this year.  In the few games he was struggling with a shoulder injury, the defense as a whole took a step back.  Now that he's been healthy, the Power defense is back to playing their hearts out.  Butler is capable of disrupting the play both in the backfield (3 sacks), as well as at the line of scrimmage with his multiple pass blocks. 

Tyrell Herbert was also a force early in the season at the jack linebacker position, but his injury forced Head Coach Chris Siegfried to make a surprise move and put Lonnell DeWalt there instead.  The move has been a good one so far.  DeWalt and his 6'6" Frame make it very tough for opposing quarterbacks to pass the ball, especially in the goal line area. 

Pittsburgh has always loved the linebackers, and the Power have some good ones.  They did have some downtime, so I'll have to ding them a bit, but there's no mistaking why the Power have managed to stay competitive with the offense struggling.

This unit has played fairly solid despite the fact Josh Lay has missed multiple games due to injuries and suspension.  Antonio Smith played well for a few games but was released to move on to the UFL.  Carlos Campbell has battled the injury bug but is a huge contributor to the goal line defense.  Royce Adams does a great job of holding defenders to minimal gains after the catch. 

It's easy to say the secondary gets beat a lot, but all AFL secondaries do.  The key is how the teams play in terms of getting those few key stops throughout the game.  The Power D has excelled at this so far. 

Going forward, it will be interesting to see how well Lay continues to play as he recovers from his concussion.  The swagger and physicality he brings to the game is much appreciated by the Pittsburgh fans. 

Yardage wise, the Power have been one of the stronger teams in terms of returning kicks, although they have yet to break one for a touchdown.  They have also done a good job of bottling up opponents on their kickoffs.  One of Paul Edinger's strengths as a kicker has been hitting the kicks off the rebound nets to help prevent a big return.  Larico Stevenson has really excelled at Special teams coverage so far this year.

Edinger has made three field goals this year, two of which were at clutch moments of the game.  His game tying kick at the end of regulation in week one allowed the Power to force overtime.  He also nailed a field goal late against Spokane to stretch the lead to ten points and ice the game.  His extra points could use a little work although he is far from the wirst kicker in the AFL in terms of that.

Overall, this group has done a very good job. 

Personally I think the Power have done a strong job overall as a team.  The offense still needs to get better but the defense has done a great job of keeping the team in games late until the O can find a way to win it.  As the team continues to get healthier and get their key players back, the playoffs are still a strong possibility as long as the Power keep playing fundamentally smart football and keep pace with Cleveland.

What do you all think of the Power so far?  Feel free to comment below.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pittsburgh Power Defense Spays the SaberCats

If you were to tell me beforehand that Bernard Morris would throw two awful interceptions and lose two more fumbles on botched snaps, I'd tell you the Power would likely lose the game.

The Power Defense had other things in mind.

Pittsburgh (5-4) harassed quarterback Mark Grieb the entire game, never letting him set up much of a rhythm.  They ended both halves of football by stopping the San Jose SaberCats (5-4) just shy of the goal line. 

Mike "The Joystick" Washington had another breakout performance with 120 yards and a season high 4 touchdowns.  Jason "Whatyoutalkinbout" Willis added 88 yards and three scores, none bigger than his wide-open catch with 14 seconds, which proved to be the game-winning play.

After the game Willis was quick to mention how the offense wanted to do their part after seeing the defense shut down San Jose.  "When you see the defense play hard like that, you want to reward them for their hard work," said Willis.

With Cleveland losing to Orlando, it was vital that the Power find a way to get the W.  You have to credit Bernard Morris for continuing to fight hard in spite of his glaring mistakes.   Morris did end up throwing 263 yards and 8 Touchdowns.

The defense did struggle to contain Chad Cook who set a new single season mark for rushing touchdowns for the SaberCats record books.  He ended up with three scores and probably left a few Power defenders black and blue from his hard, physical running style.

Head Coach Siegfried once again pointed out his team's never say die attitude following the game.  Both Siegfried and Willis credited Defensive coordinator Maurice Blanding for being an inspiration to the team with his speeches.

By virtue of the win, and the Cleveland loss, Pittsburgh now sits half a game back in the Eastern division as they head into the bye.

Pittsburgh returns to action on May 28th on the road against the Dallas Vigilantes.

POST GAME AWARDS (As voted on by the media)
Russell Athletic Offensive Player of the Game – Mark Grieb, San Jose
Riddell Defensive Player of the Game – Eddie Moten, San Jose
JLS Ironman - Chad Cook, San Jose
NiFTy Playmaker of the Game – Mike Washington, Pittsburgh
Cutter Catch of the Game – Mike Washington’s tipped TD catch, Pittsburgh
Spalding Highlight of the Game – Jason Willis’s game-winning touchdown catch, Pittsburgh
Savoy Player of the Game – Mike Washington, Pittsburgh


Friday, May 13, 2011

San Jose SaberCats @ Pittsburgh Power Preview

Consol Energy Center
Saturday May 14th, 2011
TV: CW19, NiFTy TV
Radio: 93.7 The Fan (Pittsburgh), KNBR 680 AM (San Francisco), KTCT 1050AM (San Mateo)

The Pittsburgh Power are riding high after a thrilling comeback victory last week against the defending AFL champion Spokane Shock.  Hoping to ride the momentum the defense built in that win, the Power defense will now set their sights on 12 year veteran quarterback Mark Grieb.

Mark Grieb is a 12 year AFL veteran who has put up 2298 yards passing, 40 TD, 11 interceptions, 111.1 QB Rating, and 3 rushing TD.   He’s the kind of quarterback who has seen just about anything you are going to throw at him in this league, and he’s done it on a consistent basis for a long time. 

Pittsburgh needs to create pressure up front to force him to make quick throws much like they did against Kyle Rowley last week.  Grieb has shown a tendency to rush his throws and be inaccurate under pressure.  Last week under major pressure from Arizona, Grieb threw 4 interceptions and never did get comfortable.  He’s going to want to improve on those numbers if San Jose wants to win.

Samora Goodson (630 yards/12 TD), Nichiren Flowers (385 yards/14 TD), and Otis Amey (109 yards/2 TD in only one game) are on IR.   They will look to some big time AFL vets to bolster their attack.

Ben Nelson made his 2011 debut last week against Arizona and caught 6 catches for 82 yards and 2 TD’s.  This is his 5th season of Arena ball and last year with Cleveland he had 1867 yards and 47 TD’s.  6’2” 190 pounds of talent, He is a difference maker. 

James Roe 6’1”, 200 lbs, Norfolk State, 37 years old (9449 yards/231 TD) has not played since 2008 but he is the all time leading receiver in San Jose history.  Players like this know how to play the game and San Jose will rely on his veteran presence to boost their offensive attack.

Chad Cook is a 6’1 265 pound bruiser who has accounted for 17 rushing touchdowns (2nd most in the AFL), 110 rushing yards and is a threat to catch the ball as well adding 94 yards and a score through the air.  The Power defense is going to have to account for him at all times.   They’ve struggled a bit against some big name rushers so far this year.  Bobby Reid and Kirby Griffin were able to exploit some matchups up front, so Pittsburgh really needs to work on shoring up their run coverage.

Pittsburgh will really need to take advantage of a SaberCat defense that ranks dead last in the league.  Quarterback Bernard Morris overcame a very shaky first half to help spur the Power comeback and he will need to be on top of his game again this week if the game turns into a shootout.

Look for Jason "Whatyoutalkinbout" Willis (573 yards/8 TD) and Mike "Joystick" Washington (470 yards/8 TD) to continue their strong play.  DJ Hall was open for much of the game against Spokane as well, but Morris struggled to get him the ball.  Hall is another receiver who could have a breakout game this year for the Power.

On defense, the Power will look to continue their domination up front.  The return of Neil Purvis bolstered the pass rush and Gary Butler finally seemed to be the wrecking ball we saw earlier in the year.  

Overall if the Power play as well as they did on defense last week, they should be able to contain a SaberCat attack that is missing their biggest guns.  The biggest key will be whether Morris can finally put together a complete game.  If he does put it all together this game could be won by a large margin.  I'm not quite ready to say that's the case.

Even still, I like the Power in this one.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Man, The Myth, The Legend....RIP Kenny "Lemonade Guy" Geidel

The news spread today that Pirates/Penguins Vendor Kenny Geidel passed away yesterday.  Known for his distinctive cry of "LEMONAAAAAAADDDDDDDDEEEEEEEE" and "Cotton Candy 'ere!", fans were always on the lookout for him whenever they were at a game.

He was a vendor for the Pirates and Penguins since 1985, and hardly ever missed a game.  I know any game I ever went to he was there, focused completely on selling his products.  I loved how he knew to pause and make sure he wasn't blocking someone's view during a play. 

The games just won't be the same without you Kenny! 

Pirates owner Bob Nutting had this to say about Kenny Geidel, "He was part of the fabric of the experience at PNC Park. Our thoughts & prayers go to his family & friends."

Michael McDonald, district manager for Aramark, said “He certainly was one of the ‘characters’ that added to the sporting event experience and had quite a following among the Pittsburgh fan base. He will be missed.”

Kenny was popular and had followings on YouTube and Facebook.

The Pirates will also have a moment of silence before tonight's game against the Dodgers in honor of Geidel.  Where else but Pittsburgh do you honor stadium vendors?  Gotta love that about this town.
Who are we left with for stadium entertainment now?  The singing usher?  It just won't be the same.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Marquee Win For The Power!

As we look back on the season for the Pittsburgh Power, two moments standout for me.  The low point, so far, was when a winless Tulsa Talons squad came into Consol Energy Center and stomped the Power 45-22.  The high point for 2011 came last night as the Power took down the defending Arena Bowl Champs.

Don't get me wrong, there are still some issues to address, but the Power finally have a win they can build some momentum from.  This was an opponent who had just beaten the undefeated Arizona Rattlers and also a very good Orlando Predator squad IN Orlando.

Everything about this matchup screamed mismatch for the Power and yet there they were at the end of the game able to claim victory.

Bernard Morris made the surprise start at quarterback and looked completely awful in the first half.  he was missing wide open receivers, making poor reads, and quite honestly making head coach Chris Siegfried's decision to start him look idiotic.  Luckily for the Power, the defense decided to come and play big today.

Gary Butler has officially been removed from the Missing Persons report, and Lonnell DeWalt's shift to defense paid huge dividends.  Larico Stevenson was flying aorund the whole game making plays and the return of Neil Purvis provided a huge boost to the Power pass rush.  The Front three were relentless the whole game. forcing plenty of early throws from the Shock's Kyle Rowley.

Mike "Joystick" Washington came up huge in this game.  His one handed leaping grab early in the 3rd quarter was not only a game changer, but possibly a season changer as well.

Is it any coincidence that the stars of this game both wore number one for the Power.  Make-A-Wish kid Michael "Mick" Walsh clearly had a positive impact on the Power and one cannot deny what Washington's presence meant for the Power in this one.

If Morris can play like he did in the second half, the Power offense should be able to hang with anyone in the league.  If the defense plays like they did in this one, the sky is the limit. 

At least the Power finally have something to build on.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spokane Shock @ Pittsburgh Power Preview

Saturday May 7th, 2011
Consol Energy Center
TV: WPCW (Pittsburgh's CW),
Radio: 93.7 FM (Pittsburgh), 700 AM (Spokane)

Both teams may enter this record with identical 3-4 records, however one is a team on the rise while the other is doing some soul searching on offense.

The Power are coming off a 58-39 drubbing at the hands of the Georgia Force in which starting quarterback Anthony Morelli had easily his worst start, throwing three interceptions.  Xavier Lee was a bright spot catching two touchdowns, running for one, and even adding his first passing touchdown as part of the Power.  Jason Willis had a solid game, but there weren't many gamebreaking plays.

Everywhere you looked for the Power there were breakdowns.  Offensive line, wide receivers, quarterback, defense, and even the kicking game saw mistakes happen.  It was an all around ugly game and things don't get any easier this week with the defending champs in town.

Let's look at some of the positives.   Spokane is nowhere near the "Force" on defense that Georgia is.  In fact they are ranked 17th out of the 18 AFL teams in scoring defense at 58.6 PPG.  They rank 17th in rushing defense, so look for the Power to get Morelli, Lee and Rue going in the running game and perhaps get back to basics.

Spokane is 5th in the league in scoring at 58.3 PPG, and a big part of that is the strong offensive line they have.  Through 7 games, they have only allowed 6 sacks.  That is simply incredible.  The Shock also ranks number one in the league in goal line offense, converting at an absurd 94.6% success rate. 

Kyle Rowley leads a potent Shock passing attack, and he is in the top 5 in most passing categories this year.  He will be the third big time quarterback the Power have faced in the last four weeks.  Hopefully the defense can get going a bit more this week, but injuries/suspensions to Josh Lay, Terrence Carter, Neil Purvis, and Tyrell Herbert have really crippled the team so far. 

The Shock have a very deep and talented receiving corps.  Three Shock wideouts have caught 10 or more touchdowns this year, and that does not bode well for a Power secondary already stretched thin.  Look for Rowley to spread the ball around to Greg Orton (700 yards/18 TD), Raul Vijil (385 yards/12 TD) and Shaun Kauleinamoku (353 yards/10 TD).

The Power should get a nice emotional boost with wide receiver and special teams ace Michael "Mick" Walsh who will suit up this week for the Power as part of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.   They also need to recapture some of the magic the receiving corps had in previous games.  I'm talking to you Lonnell DeWalt.  Bring some of that highlight reel ability home with you!

One of the biggest keys to getting the upset will come down to the Power offensive line's ability to give Morelli time to throw.  Also the Power Defense is really going to have to step up and force some turnovers if the Power are to have any chance in this one.

I'm a diehard Power fan, but in this case....

The Voice Says....Spokane wins 63-49

Sunday, May 1, 2011

U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

I know this is a sports blog, but the news breaking tonight that Osama Bin Laden is dead is simply incredible.

I remember the absolute horror and emptiness I felt on 9-11-01 as I watched the footage of airplanes crashing into the World Trade Center, and the subsequent collapse of the twin towers.

I remember the fear I felt when I heard one of the wayward planes was flying over Pennsylvania.  It was a day no one who lived through it will ever forget.

When they interrupted the TV show my wife and I were watching, we both kind of said, "This better be good...."

Not only is the news good but it is absolutely amazing. 

I am so proud of my country for finally ending this man's reign of terror.  I am so proud of the troops who finally brought justice to all of the innocent lives that were lost on that fateful day as a result of Bin Laden's insidious plot.

The world is a safer place tonight....

Consistently Inconsistent: Power Falls to the Force 58-39

As you look at the way the season has unfolded for the Pittsburgh Power, it's hard not to get frustrated by the way they look so good at times, and then look completely lost at others.

One week after being named the National Guard AFL Player of the Week, Anthony Morelli looked like a different quarterback against the Georgia Force.

The wide receivers and Morelli seemed on different pages all night long. There was definitely a lot of confusion on the routes being run, but give some credit to a tough Georgia secondary for some excellent coverage.

Lonnell DeWalt, who had been making some real highlight catches the past two weeks, was very quiet in this one, not making a catch until the game was out of reach.

One receiver who made the most of the opportunity was Xavier Lee, who continued to improve as a goal line threat by rushing for several touchdowns and adding one more through the air.

Mike Micco and I spent some time on The Power Plant talking about the great job the offensive line has been doing. How do they respond? They give up four sacks on Morelli.

Paul Edinger continued his struggles, missing a 38 yard field goal and two extra points. Even his kickoffs aren't bouncing off the rebound nets the way they had been earlier in the year.

One positive I saw in this game was how much pressure the Power front three were generating. They may have only ended up with one sack, but they forced a lot of errant passes by Brett Elliott. This may have been an uglier final score if not for that.

For all the struggles in the first half, the score was only 20-19 at halftime in favor of Georgia, but a 21-0 run in the 3rd quarter blew the game wide open and Pittsburgh never seriously threatened again.

Maurice Purify lived up to all the hype by hauling in 90 yards and four touchdowns. C.J. Johnson led the Force in receiving yards with 140 and three touchdowns.

The Power will get a boost by returning home and will also have Michael "Mick" Walsh on the sidelines which should provide an inspirational lift as the Power look to beat the defending ArenaBowl champions, the Spokane Shock.