TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Storm (1-1) hosts the Cleveland Gladiators (0-2) on “$1 Night,” presented by the Tampa Bay Times, on Saturday, April 22 at AMALIE® Arena on AMALIE Motor Oil Field. The game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network and will be streamed on the Lightning Power Play. Kickoff is set for 7:00 p.m. EST.
This will be the 22nd meeting between the Storm and Gladiators, and the second of the season. Last time out, the Storm defeated the Gladiators in Cleveland by a score of 46-40. While Cleveland holds an overall winning record of 11-10, the Storm has a 7-6 edge when hosting. Tampa Bay also holds a winning record of 2-0 over Cleveland head coach, Ron Selesky.
The Storm enters this week’s matchup coming off a disappointing and controversial loss to the Philadelphia Soul. Tampa Bay will now turn its attention to its next opponent, the Cleveland Gladiators. Cleveland is coming off a tough 52-49 loss to the new kid on the block, the Baltimore Brigade. After starting Shane Boyd at quarterback in week one, the Glads handed the reins over to rookie Tanner Marsh.
Marsh completed 23-of-36 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns. However, his offensive line struggled mightily, allowing five sacks. The Baltimore defense forced three turnovers that included two lost fumbles and an interception. Look for the Storm’s opportunistic defense to take advantage of Cleveland’s miscues.
The Storm offense will once again be led by quarterback Randy Hippeard. Hippeard’s versatility as a dual-threat quarterback is what helps the Storm’s offensive engine run. In addition, the Storm offense was extremely efficient this past weekend, scoring 52 points on just 38 total plays. Contrast that to Philadelphia, which scored 56 points on 49 plays. It is the Storm’s efficiency that will help it win games on the offensive side of the ball.
The defensive tone is set by the Storm’s defensive line. This season, the team ranks second in the League with 5.0 sacks through two games. Last season the team corralled just 8.0 in 16 games. Each starting lineman has at least one sack, with Caesar Rayford and Dexter Jackson leading the way with 1.5 sacks a piece.
However, the success of the line is also connected to the success of the defensive backfield. By disrupting routes and locking down receivers, the defensive backs give the defensive line the time to get to opposing quarterbacks. The Storm backfield has yet to allow an opposing receiver gain 100 or more receiving yards.
Look for the Storm to come out firing on all cylinders. The team will want to show that its performance in week two was no fluke, and that the tides have turned for the better. The fans will be looking for a win at home and the Storm will be looking to give them one.