On Thursday, for the first time in team history, the Cobras will go into
a game with a better record than their opponent. The Cobras will
be facing, for the first time, a truly desperate team. The Tampa
Bay Storm lost both their preseason games, and their 0-3 three start to
the season is the worst in the history of one of the AFL's greatest franchises.
Add in the fact that the Storm's 67-34 loss to Albany last week was the
largest in team history, and one sees that Tampa is bleeding, and bleeding
bad. And, as the saying goes, an injured animal is a dangerous one.
The Storm have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
(or unfortunately - depending on how you look at it), the Cobras' pride
is injured too. A 56-28 drubbing on national TV will do that to you.
So when the
Cobras and the Storm face off Thursday, again in front of a nation-wide
TV audience, it will be a contest of two angry teams desperately in need
of a win to stay competitive in the Southern Division. A win this
week will even the Cobras’ record going into next week’s contest with Florida,
a team they led by 21 at one point during their first meeting. A
loss, and they'll limp into their second straight away game at 1-3.
Thursday could conceivably set the tone for the entire season.
Out – OL/DL Johnnie
Hicks (IR*), FB/LB Toran James
(IR, hand), OL/DL Scott Miller (IR),
WR/LB Manny Pina (IR), WR/LB Kevin
Questionable – DS
Tommy Johnson (calf)
Probable – WR/DB
Dexter Dawson (back)
Out - WR/DB Wayne
Walker (IR, hamstring), OS Harvey Middleton (IR, collarbone)
WR/DB Melvin Cunnigham (foot)
Probable -- OL/DL
Darion Conner (toe)
* Note: Unlike the NFL, the
AFL’s injured reserve is not season-long. A player placed on IR need
only miss the next two games, then can be re-activated.
Despite their current slide,
the Storm/Pittsburgh Gladiators have made 13 straight playoff appearances
has advanced to the ArenaBowl seven times. They were 11-4 last year.
Seven-year veteran John Kaleo,
acquired from New England through a trade, will start at quarterback, replacing
former Florida State star Thad Busby, who started Tampa Bay’s first three
games. Kaleo was 10 of 19 for 159 yards, two TDs and no interceptions
in finishing the Storm’s game against Albany last week.
Cobras’ line coach Ron Selesky
was an assistant coach and director of player personal in Tampa for two
years. Also, FB/LB coach Lee Johnson played on the Storm’s 1993 ArenaBowl
In addition to four AFL championships
with Tampa Bay, Storm head coach Tim Marcum won another four ArenaBowl
titles in Detroit. Marcum also has 117 victories, the most in AFL
The Storm’s primary kicker,
Matt Huerkamp, was injured in the team's first regular season game.
Tampa Bay is now on their third additional kicker in three games.
The Storm’s leading rusher,
Andre Bowden, has rushed for 30 yards and two touchdowns. Leading
receiver Charles Wilson has caught 16 passes for 207 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Second leading receiver Harvey Middleton will miss Thursday's game with
a collarbone injury.
Tampa Bay has already lost by
more than 10 points twice this season, 67-34 to Albany and 41-26 to New
England. The Storm is averaging just 30 points per game this season.
Cobras' Keys to Victory:
Pick a QB and go with
or Garay? Or Loots? Coach
Kay needs to make a decision and move on, because a team with a quarterback
controversy is not a winning team. Arellanes was slightly injured
last week, and rarely had good protection. But Garay was able to
deal with the same pass rush and throw two touchdown passes. The
good news is that the Storm has only four sacks in three games.
Keep pounding the ball
The Cobras’ commitment to
the ground game paid off in the second half of last week’s game, when Marrio
Grier scored once and set up several other scores.
Turn the crowd against
With a new quarterback calling
the signals for Tampa Bay, any poor play at that position is bound to result
in a chorus of boos, which will further divert the Storm’s attention from
the game. A sack, interception or safety could get the ball rolling.
Speaking of safeties...
...two in one game?
That kind of thing needs to stop.
Cobra, redeem thyself
OK, this isn't really a
“key to victory,” but it would be nice if the Cobras showed the national
TV audience that they aren't quite as bad as they looked last week.
And as long as we're off topic, the Cobras need to bring back some guidelines
for the ESA from the Ice Palace, which actually acknowledges the AFL team
that plays in it by incorporating a football in its logo. Would it
be that hard to string up some Cobras banners at the ESA along with the
“Go ‘Canes” and “Go Pack” signs?
Cobras 45 - Storm 42
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in the CobraZone
Forum! Look on the General Discussion board under the thread
Tampa Bay Predictions.