How will Russ Michna improve the SaberCats' game?
SaberCats: 3-2, last week defeated New Orleans 57-38
Gladiators: 1-4, last week loss to Utah 57-40
SaberCats (AFL ranking)
Points per Game: 52.6 (8th)
Points Allowed: 56.8 (11th)
Total Offense: 300.0 Yds/Gm (6th)
Total Defense: 260.0 Yds/Gm (4th)
Turnover Margin -4 (Gained 12, loss 16) (T-8th)
Gladiators (AFL ranking)
Points per Game: 48.2 (10th)
Points Allowed: 63.2 (14th)
Total Offense: 279.4 Yds/Gm (10th)
Total Defense: 330.4 Yds/Gm (12th)
Turnover Margin -3 (gained 8, loss 11) (7th )
QB – Russ Michna (312 yards passing, 6 TDs, 1 INT last week vs. New Orleans)
Brian Zbydniewski (60.7 Comp %, 1,308 Yds, 24 TDs, 6 INT this season)
Nick Davila (589 yards passing, 14 TDs, 2 INT this season)
WR – Jason Willis (42 receptions, 471 yards, 8 TDs this season)
WR – Huey Whittaker (26 receptions, 320 yards, 8 TDs, this season)
WR – Jamarko Simmons (24 receptions, 292 yards, 8 TDs this season)
WR – Jonathan Wilson (31 receptions, 369 yards, 9 TDs this season)
WR – Dominick Goodman (30 receptions, 293 yards, 5 TDs this season)
WR – Thyron Lewis (27 receptions, 393 yards, 7 TDs this season)
DB – Clevan Thomas (22.0 tackles, 5 INT, 2 pass breakups this season)
DB – Brandon Anderson (22.5 tackles, 1 INT & 5 pass breakups this season)
LB – Francis Maka (9.5 tackles and 2 sacks this season)
LB – Jamar Love (14.5 tackles & 4 pass breakups this season)
Keep an eye on…
SaberCats: QB Russ Michna will make his ‘Cats Lair debut Saturday night. Michna showed great game management with a short week of preparation tossing six scores, and limiting the turnovers to three (interception and two fumbles). WR/LB Huey Whittaker returned to the lineup last week and made an impact on both sides of the ball. Whittaker scored twice on offense and also had a pick six interception that started the scoring for San Jose. The SaberCats defense is looking to build on a tremendous effort. The Voodoo only had 164 yards passing and didn’t score a touchdown though the air. San Jose also forced four turnovers (2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries). San Jose continues to shut down opponents on third down as they have only allowed nine conversions on 3rd down in five games this season which is the best in the AFL. Three-time Arena Bowl winning QB Mark Grieb will get his #16 retired in a halftime ceremony Saturday night. He joins hall of famers Barry Wagner and Sam Hernandez to have their numbers retired by the SaberCats.
Gladiators: QB Brian Zbyniewski after an eight touchdown performance two weeks ago against Philadelphia that garnered him offensive player of the week honors, had a more modest three touchdown passing performance in a loss to Utah last week. Zbyniewski added two rushing touchdowns which extends his streak of at least one touchdown on the ground in four of the first five games. WR Thyron Lewis could be a factor for the Gladiators this week as his 6’4” frame could be problematic for San Jose’s DB’s who all average 6’0”. Lewis has a four game streak of four catches or more per game. FB/LB Derik Steiner leads a rushing attack that is rare in the AFL. Steiner has already racked up five touchdowns on 26 carries. All-purpose threat Dominick Goodman has already 30 catches after leading the league last season with 170. Goodman is a threat also in the return game, as he is averaging 19.0 yards per return. Goodman’s 170.2 total yards/game are 5th best in the AFL. The Gladiators are 3rd best in the AFL in the red zone scoring 24 touchdowns in 28 trips in the red zone (88.7%).
San Jose leads the all-time series 7-3. This will be the first time the Cleveland Gladiators will play in San Jose, as they were based in Las Vegas from 2003-2007. In their only meeting on June 25, 2011 San Jose suffered their worst defeat in franchise history 82-21. That loss sent San Jose to their seventh consecutive loss. As a franchise, the Gladiators have only one victory in San Jose. Way back on June 27, 1997 by a score of 24-22 when the team was based in New Jersey and were called the Red Dogs.
“I expect him to play well, he was solid this week in practice and he has more knowledge than he did last week.” – Head Coach Darren Arbet on Russ Michna.
“I’m excited, this has always a tough place to play with great fan support. It’s going to be really nice to be on the other side of it.” – Russ Michna making his SaberCats home debut Saturday.
Nick Laino works in studio operations at Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and is the Public Address announcer for the San Jose SaberCats.