After a home defeat at the hands of Philadelphia last week, the Storm is primed to get back on the right track.
With the second half of the season underway, Tampa Bay (6-4, 2-3), is now just one game out of first place in the South Division behind the Jacksonville Sharks. The team will have a tough test this Saturday when they square off against the Iowa Barnstormers (4-6, 2-1).
Iowa, currently sitting third in a close race of the National Conference’s Central Division, has lost two in a row and is coming into this game with something to prove. The team is only one game behind the Chicago Rush for first place.
Coach Ewart notes his concern of playing in Des Moines: “It’s a very difficult place to play; they love arena football out there. It’s definitely going to create some challenges.”
Preventing the Barnstormers’ defense from making big plays will be the Storm’s main focus when preparing for Iowa this week.
“We have to come in here and have good practices. I thought today’s practice was pretty good. The main thing is we’ve got to keep Adrian standing up, that’s the key. If he’s not getting hit then he shows he’s pretty efficient. So the offensive line has to suck it up and protect this week.” Ewart said after Wednesday’s practice.
The offensive line, beginning with center Brad Serini and guard Alfred McCullough, is working hard this week to have a better game and provide quarterback Adrian McPherson with enough time and space to find his targets. Last week McPherson was sacked four times for a season-high loss of 26 yards.
However when the protection is there, McPherson can make the plays. Last week against the Soul he ran in two touchdowns and threw for five. Adrian will no doubt be looking for one of his go-to targets, Joe Hills when opposing the Barnstormers defense.
“Adrian’s the key… He just finds me, I catch it and run.” said Hills who has a team high 23 touchdown receptions.
This Saturday’s game will be the first matchup between these two teams since 2008, when Iowa was the New York Dragons. Hills summed up the Storm’s mindset regarding unfamiliar territory:
“It really doesn’t matter. Five years, five minutes, five days… We are just going to go up there, put our pads on, and let the chips fall where they may.”