Game Preview: Storm vs. Jacksonville

Apr 28, 2015 Tampa Bay Storm

The Tampa Bay Storm (2-3, 0-0) hosts the Jacksonville Sharks (1-4, 0-1) on “Gasparilla Night” this Saturday, May 2 at AMALIE Arena. This is the first of a three-game season series versus the Sharks. Fans will be able to listen to the game on 1250 AM WHNZ or on the Lightning Power Play which can be found on the iHeartRadio app or TBLPowerPlay.com. In addition, fans can watch the game live on the WatchESPN app.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.

This is the first meeting of the 2015 season for both the Storm and Sharks. It will be the sixth time the Storm has hosted the Sharks, with Tampa holding a 2-3 overall record when facing Jacksonville at Amalie Arena. Historically, Tampa has not fared well when facing the Sharks, with Jacksonville holding an overall series record of 9-2. The last time these two teams met was on May 24, 2014, with Storm coming out on the winning end by a score of 56-35.

This week, the Storm returns home after suffering a heartbreaker at the hands of the Cleveland Gladiators this past Friday night. However, the team did show tremendous promise, putting together one of its most complete games offensively. With the ability to correct its mistakes, the team will look to earn its first South Division win of the season.  The matchup will be a tough one. While Jacksonville enters the game with a 1-4 record, the team is coming off a 60-28 win over the Las Vegas Outlaws. Picked by many to be one of the top teams in the American Conference, the Sharks will look to prove it is one of the League’s elite teams.

Offensively the Storm has the ability to put up big points. With dynamic receivers in T.T. Toliver and rookie Kendrick Ings, quarterback Jason Boltus has multiple options to help lead the Storm to victory. Last week both Toliver and Ings had over 100 receiving yards against the Gladiators. Look for the Storm to attack a strong pass defense, that allows just 207.6 yards per game; but that does not mean the Sharks are invulnerable. The team allows 53.0 points per game.  Look for the Storm receiving corps. to get off to a fast start with the hope of putting points on the board immediately.

However, Jacksonville is not without its share of offensive weapons. In order to keep the Sharks offense at bay, the Storm will have to rely on its top-5 defense. The Sharks offense contains two of the AFL’s most potent receivers in Tiger Jones and former Storm receiver Joe Hills. Both are in the top-5 in scoring, receptions and receiving touchdowns.  In order to prevent big plays, the Storm defense will have to apply the pressure on Sharks quarterback Tommy Grady. Getting to Grady may prove a tough task with the defense going against an offensive line, anchored by former Storm center Ray McNeil, that has given up just three sacks in five games.

Both teams will be looking to come out firing on all cylinders. A win for the Storm will give the team a .500 record heading into the first bye week of the season and sets up a potential battle for first place in the South Division when it takes on the Orlando Predators on May 16.