Programming note: SaberCats take on the Pittsburgh Power Saturday at 2:00pm on CSN Bay Area Plus
Channel Locations for CSN Plus: Comcast 104 (SD), 704 (HD) AT&T 771(SD), 1771(HD) Directv 697 (SD) 697-1 (HD)
The San Jose SaberCats (2-0) head to the steel city to take on a Pittsburgh Power (0-1) team that is coming off a bye week after blowing a 10-point fourth-quarter lead to Cleveland in week one. That resulted in the firing of their head coach Derek Stingley and the hiring of former Utah Blaze and 2012 AFL Coach of The Year Ron James. The SaberCats come in red hot with two convincing wins against Portland and Philadelphia.
Here is what to watch for this week.
Defense wins championships
The SaberCats’ defense has come out firing on all cylinders. In two games, San Jose is allowing 33.5 points per game and allowing only 4 yards per play. Last week vs. Philadelphia, the SaberCats limited the Soul to only six second half points, allowing zero in the 3rd Quarter. It is only two games in but the SaberCats boast the number one defense in the Arena Football League.
The Pittsburgh Power and their ownership led by hall of famer Lynn Swan decided that it was time to overhaul a team that was underachieving at best since coming into the league in 2011. So the team was rebuilt in the off-season including the addition of Tommy Grady at QB. Grady whose best season came in 2012 when he set AFL records for passing attempts (743), completions (507), yards (5,870), and touch¬downs (142), also won the league’s Offensive Player of the Year and MVP awards. It was that season; he had what could have been one of the best performances of an opposing QB against San Jose when he threw for almost 400 yards and nine touchdowns in a 70-59 loss. In his Power debut he threw for 271 yards and five touchdowns. The Power last season broke 270 passing yards only four times.
It don’t matter who is behind center
Nathan Stanley, who had never started an AFL game until Sunday, has done quite nicely in relief of Russ Michna. Stanley entered the game in the second half during the game against Portland and threw three touchdowns on 14 pass attempts. He followed that up with a masterful performance Sunday throwing for 249 yards and seven touchdowns. He was rewarded by being named AFL Offensive Player of the Week. If Michna does return Saturday, Stanley has more than proved he is ready for the big leagues if he is called upon again.
New Man in Charge
Ron James has been giving the reins of the Pittsburgh Power after Derek Stingley was relieved of his duties following the Power’s 63-53 loss to Cleveland. James was last the coach of the now defunct Utah Blaze who along with Tommy Grady, Aaron Lesue and Shaun Kauleinamoku led the Blaze to a franchise record 12 wins in 2012 along with Coach of the year honors. They are now all reunited in the steel city with the goal of making the Power one of the elite teams in the National Conference and the AFL.
“We are climbing, we are getting better.” - Clevan Thomas when asked how good is the defense.
“Guys are playing hard; they have the eye of the tiger right now. The sky is the limit on how good they can be.”- Darren Arbet when asked about the performance so far of the SaberCats defense.
“Here everyone is a number one option and it’s great to be around so much talent.” – New SaberCats Wide Receiver Reggie Gray when asked about the receiving corps.
Nick Laino is an operations technician for Comcast SportsNet Bay Area and is also the Public Address Announcer for the San Jose SaberCats