In the post-game press conference following last weekend’s 33-point loss to the Jacksonville Sharks, Tampa Bay Storm head coach Lawrence Samuels said his coaching staff would spend the next couple days watching video of the game and evaluating each player to look for ways to correct mistakes made throughout the game.
Before practice got under way this week in preparation for Saturday’s tilt against the L.A. Kiss at Amalie Arena (7:30 p.m. kickoff), Samuels and his staff, as they do every week, sat down with the team and went over the video and those player evaluations.
So, was this film session a bit more intense than week’s prior?
Samuels smiled, bit his lip and nodded.
“You have to keep teaching execution,” the third-year head coach said after the Storm’s practice session on Wednesday without expanding on just how fiery that session was. “We had one bad play (against Jacksonville), and it kind of was a snowball effect. You try to eliminate all of your mistakes. We can’t as a team, where we are right now, a young team like this at this point in the season, we have to eliminate those mistakes. We make that mistake early, and it carried over to the next drive.”
Samuels was referring to the Storm’s inability to punch the ball into the end zone after driving to the Jacksonville three-yard line midway through the first quarter. The Sharks scored after forcing a turnover on downs to regain the lead and then expanded it with an interception return for another touchdown.
Following a second interception return for a touchdown, the Sharks had turned a one-point deficit into a 34-7 lead in a little over 11 minutes.
The Storm matched the Sharks score for score the rest of the way but could never get back in the game after falling behind by so much, an oft-repeated theme throughout the season.
“It’s staying focused the whole game,” Storm defensive back James Harrell said. “We have to put two halves together, four quarters together and just play football and do what we’re supposed to do.”
Samuels said the Storm will focus on coming out of the locker room ready to play from the opening kickoff against Week 12 opponent L.A. and sustaining that early push through all four quarters.
“The first two days of practice, we kind of amped it up a little bit,” Samuels said. “Hopefully, that’ll spill over into the game. We need to come out fast and execute. I think that’s the big key for us this week.”
Three weeks ago, Tampa Bay won its first game of the season, defeating perennial AFL power Arizona. The results since haven’t been as encouraging, however, as the Storm dropped a road game to previously winless Portland and followed with last week’s lackluster performance at home versus Jacksonville.
Samuels said his team might have been feeling too good about itself following the Arizona win and complacency set in.
“That’s one of those words I hate to use around here, but you could see the lackadaisical play on the road and back here last week against Jacksonville,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to spice it up in practice, guys getting after each other and getting back to being us.”
The Storm view Saturday’s game against L.A. as a chance for redemption, an opportunity to show their fans and the rest of the league the last two weeks have been more aberration than reality.
“We’ve just got to stay together, stay the course, not give up on each other,” Storm linebacker Jimmy Gordon said. “We’ve got a long season ahead of us. We’ve got to come together and be ready for the playoffs.”
As for that early-week Jacksonville game video breakdown, Gordon said it was good to watch once to see where the team can improve, but the loss has since been forgotten about and all focus has now been turned toward beating L.A.
“You’ve just got to look forward and get ready for the next one,” he said. “We’ll see all these teams again in the future…We’ve just got to get some wins and stay strong toward the end of the season so we can carry that into the playoffs.”