As the Tampa Bay Storm travel to Cleveland this weekend for the very first time, head coach Dave Ewart will in contrast be heading back to the city in which his AFL coaching career started. But rather than classifying the trip as a personal homecoming for himself, Ewart instead opted to keep the focus of Saturday’s game on the team.
“Not much has changed since I started there,” Ewart said. “It’s nothing big for me, but we know that they still have a very good football team.”
Of course, Ewart feels the same about his own team, and in particular, his defensive unit, which has held opponents to an average of under 200 yards in total offense in each of the past two games, while also allowing no more than 50 points in each of the past three.
“They’ve been tackling well, putting pressure on the quarterback, the secondary has been good, but we’re going to encounter a few good quarterbacks here in the next couple of weeks. [John] Dutton has 11 years of experience, so we won’t be able to get away with the mistakes that perhaps we did last week.”
That said, there are still specific aspects of the game Ewart pointed to that he would like to see his team improve in.
“We have to create some more turnovers. We haven’t been able to create any on defense and then we turn the ball over on offense, so we need to get that in the plus area.”
Lastly, Ewart said that despite some of his defensive backs being banged up in recent weeks, the team was for the most part healthy, although he didn’t go into specifics.
“We got 23 guys to practice and play, and you can’t really dwell on injuries, you just have to realize its part of the game and move forward.”
Much like in recent weeks, the Storm face an opponent this week who they have seen already once before this season, with that familiarity serving as an advantage heading into this weekend’s game.
“We know their tendencies and I know they’re going to have fire, so we’ll have to match their intensity even more and try to get that road win.”
In similar fashion to Ewart, Holmes also acknowledged the good play of the team recently, but also admitted that there were a few areas in need of improvement.
“We just need to come together as a team. This is a good opportunity for us to do that and get this road win.”