- Orlando Predators (0-0) Vs. New Orleans VooDoo (0-1)
- Friday, March 18, 2011 at 7:00 PM Central
- New Orleans Arena aka The Graveyard
The Orlando Predators will be stepping onto the field for the first time in the 2011 Arena Football League (AFL) season as they started the year with a first round bye. Maybe its a shame that their first venture into play this season will be on the unfriendly confines of “The Graveyard.”
First-year coach Derek Stingley will bring his New Orleans VooDoo back after a close 46-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Storm in week one of the season. It was a loss that showed this brand new VooDoo squad has a lot of the weapons needed to hold their own in this league, but some pieces are still missing.
The VooDoo were able to contain the Storm offense and hold them without a passing touchdown throughout the entire game, but five rushing scores kept Tampa Bay ahead the whole time none the less.
Arena football isn’t necessarily known for its running game with the shorther and thinner field, less players on the line, and faster action but that didn’t stop the Storm from keeping the ball moving. The VooDoo are going to have to tighten seams and make sure Orlando doesn’t pull the same stunts.
Stingley will have to face off against another first-year coach, and former on-field AFL opponent, in Predator coach Pat O’Hara.
New Orleans is going to have to rely a lot more on their front line of defense and also do some work on the offensive line as well. Quarterback Danny Wimprine hit the ground a lot in week one as the Storm recorded five sacks, four of which were by linebacker Cliff Dukes.
One of the bright spots from the VooDoo’s return to the AFL was the play of wide receiver P.J. Berry who had seven catches for 73 yards. His bigger highlight was a kick return for a touchdown en route to 154 return yards for the night. Not an easy feat for a 50-yard field.
Berry was given the AFL nifty Playmaker of the Week award for his week one play.
More good news is that the VooDoo will see the return tonight of wide receiver Carlese Franklin from injury. Franklin combined with Berry and Hutch Gonzales (one of my picks for a breakout star this year) gives the team a lot offensive firepower. But all those weapons will do no good if Wimprine can’t stay upright.
The VooDoo have to keep up the good pass defense this week against the Predators as the very dangerous Doug Gabriel and T.T. Tolliver will look to score plenty and in a hurry. Quarterback Nick Hill is sure to make these his top two targets for the game.
A few slight adjustments from last week and the VooDoo could take this game against an Orlando team that compares very closely to the Tampa Bay Storm. It will be a hard-fought game, but New Orleans is primed for their first win in the AFL (again).
Prediction: VooDoo 52 – Predators 45
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