Week 5 Preview: Storm vs. Sharks

Apr 26, 2016

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Storm (0-3, 0-1) hosts the Jacksonville Sharks (1-3, 1-1) on “Family Day – Heroes & Villains” this Sunday, May 1 at AMALIE Arena.  After coming off a bye week, the Storm will look to right the ship versus the Sharks.  Fans will be able to catch all of the action as Darek Sharp and Ian Beckles make the call for 1250 AM WHNZ.  The game will also be streamed live on ESPN3 and on the Lightning Power Play which can be found on the iHeartRadio app or at TBLPowerPlay.com.  Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. EST.

This will be the 15th meeting between these two teams and eighth in Tampa.  The Sharks lead the overall series with a record of 10-4, but the Storm holds a winning record 4-3 when facing the Sharks at home.  Last season, the Storm won 2-of-3 matchups versus the Sharks; both were home contests.

The Storm has started the season off 0-3 for the first time since the 2007 season, leaving the team looking for answers.  As whole, look for the offense to find itself during this week’s matchup.  Through the first three weeks, offensively, the team has been looking to find its identity.  Struggling to find the end zone, the team acquired wide receiver Mike Washington in a trade with the Arizona Rattlers.  Washington is a speedy receiver that has big playmaking ability.  For his career, Washington averages 106 catches and 1,320 yards per season.  He’s an added offensive weapon in a receiving corps. that includes V’Keon Lacey, Phillip Barnett and Xavier Boyce.

On defense, looks can be deceiving.  While the stats show the team giving up an average of 59.0 points per game, you have to look deeper to see the true scoring defense.  When you breakdown the defense, the team is allowing just 44.0 points per game.  When looking at the Storm’s most recent matchup, the Rattlers scored 60 total points, but 14 of those points came on offensive turnovers, meaning the defense allowed just 46 points.  This really goes to show how important it is for the Storm to click on all cylinders offensively.  When the team finally puts it all together, the Storm could be a force to be reckoned with. 

However, the Storm will have its hands full with a strong Sharks team.  The key to success will be for the Storm to apply pressure on Sharks quarterback Tommy Grady.  Through three games, Grady has become one of the League’s most efficient passers, completing 100-of-153 passes for 1,234 yards, 23 touchdowns and just two interceptions.  Getting to Grady could prove a difficult task as the Sharks have one of the best offensive lines in the game.  Anchored by center Ray McNeil, the line has allowed just one sack this season.

Much of the Sharks offense is generated by wide receiver Joe Hills.  Hills has put together quite the season and leads the team in receptions (40), receiving yards (531) and points scored (84).  Of the 23 touchdowns thrown by Grady, Hills has caught 14.  Locking down Hills would go a long way in slowing down the high-powered Sharks offense.

An additional key to defeating the Sharks is to get the offensive machine started.  With a receiving corps. that has the ability to generate points, it is only a matter of time until the Storm offense is at 100%.  On the defensive side of the ball, the team will need to stay consist.  The Storm defense has allowed an average of just 44.0 points per game and a League low 21 touchdowns.

With much at stake, look for the Storm to make a strong showing.  After a bye week to retool, the team looks energized and primed for the challenge.