Week 7 Preview: Storm at Predators

May 11, 2016 Tampa Bay Storm

The Tampa Bay Storm (0-5, 0-3) heads to Orlando to take on the Predators (6-0, 2-0) this Friday, May 13 at Amway Center.  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 can also be streamed on the Lightning Power Play through the iHeartRadio app or on ESPN3.  Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. EST.

This will be the 60th matchup between these two storied franchises and the 26th regular season game in Orlando.  Overall, the Predators lead the series 32-27, with Orlando winning the past four meetings.  In their last meeting, the Predators defeated the Storm 76-25, the largest margin of victory between either team over the course of the 25-year rivalry.

The Storm will face the Predators on short rest after coming off a loss to the Philadelphia Soul this past Monday.  The team will look to rebound versus a very strong Orlando team that defeated the Arizona Rattlers by a score of 77-59.  Offensively, the Predators average 68.5 points per game and the team limits opponents to 47.7 points per game.  For the Storm to succeed, it will have to get its offense in gear and also rely on a stout defense.

Tampa enters the game with a top-five rated defense.  The team limits opponents to 51.4 points per game, good for fifth in the League.  What is telling about this team is that the defense itself is actually holding opponents under the 51.4 mark.  With a true scoring defensive statistic that takes out the points given up by the offense, the Storm defense is holding teams to 39.6 points per game.  When looking at the past two opponents, you will see that the team has held two high-powered offenses (Jacksonville and Philadelphia) to way under their season averages.  Just this past week, the Storm held Philadelphia to 13.6 points under its season average (60.6) and when eliminating two interceptions returned for touchdowns, the defense held the Soul to 33 points, which is 27.6 points under its season average.

Part of the success of the Storm’s defense comes from its backfield.  All defensive backs know their assignments and are covering the receivers, which buys time for the defensive line to get to the quarterback.  Just this past week, the team earned its first sack of the season, a strip sack by defensive end Everett Dawkins.  The team also got a helping hand from defensive back James Harrell, who reeled in his first interception of the season.  This was the 14th interception of his three-year career.  The team will need big performances out of Dawkins and Harrell, along with the rest of the defense if it wants to succeed.

Containing the Orlando offense will not be an easy task.  The Predators enter the game with a top-five offense that scores 68.5 points per game.  The team is also ranked second in the League in passing offense, throwing for 286.3 yards per game.  The success of the Orlando offense falls on quarterback Randy Hippeard and a receiving corps. that includes Brandon Thompkins and Greg Carr.  Hippeard is one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the League, with an efficiency rating of 127.2.  He’s completed 66.0% of his passes, good for 1,700 yards, 37 touchdowns and just three interceptions.  Both Thompkins and Carr have found themselves in the top-10 in several offensive categories, with Thompkins rated second in the League with 114 points.

As with any “War on I-4” game, the Storm will come ready to play.  Look for the Storm to come out and limit another potent offense, while the Predators look to improve to 7-0.