JACKSONVILLE – The Jacksonville Sharks (3-6) will travel to face the Tampa Bay Storm (3-6) in Week 11 action on Saturday, May 24. Kickoff from Tampa Bay Times Forum is set for 7:30 p.m., as this game will air live in front of a national audience on CBS Sports Network, as well as on AM 600 WBOB (Sharks radio).
This is the second and final meeting between these two teams in the 2014 regular season, as the Sharks took down the Storm by a 60-41 count on Sea Best Field back in Week 5. Jacksonville has enjoyed tremendous success against this in-state rival as the Sharks hold an 8-1 edge in the all-time series and also emerged victorious in the teams’ lone playoff matchup. Including that showdown in the first round of the 2013 postseason, Jacksonville has won five consecutive games against Tampa Bay.
Entering this week, the Sharks will need a short memory after a tough 59-50 loss at the hands of the Orlando Predators. Jacksonville and Tampa Bay each sit three games behind Orlando in the South Division race, making this week’s game critical for both teams.
The Sharks’ defense heads into this week looking to put together a consistent performance over the course of the entire game. Against Orlando last Saturday, Jacksonville allowed just 27 points over the course of the first three quarters before yielding 32 in the game’s final frame. Tampa Bay enters this week’s game in the bottom half of the League in terms of scoring offense, ranking ninth out of 14 teams with an average of 49.4 points per game.
Though the Storm began the season with two 60-point performances in their first four games, the team has undergone transition at the quarterback position. Starter Randy Hippeard, who was under center against the Sharks earlier this season, was recently placed on Injured Reserve. Last week, the Storm turned to B.J. Hall, who threw four interceptions against the Philadelphia Soul in his first start of the season.
The Sharks will look to pressure Hall with a pass rush that is led by Jerry Turner (4.5 sacks) and Justin Parrish (4.0). In the secondary, defensive back Terrance Smith, defensive back Micheaux Robinson and Jack linebacker Charlie Hunt all have at least three interceptions this season. If the front four is able to get to Hall on a consistent basis, the Sharks’ playmaking defensive backs should have opportunities to impact the game.
On the other side of the ball, quarterback R.J. Archer is in the midst of an impressive run of turnover-free football. Archer has not thrown an interception since Week 7, tossing 22 touchdown passes without a pick over the course of the last three weeks. Archer has developed a rhythm with veteran wideout Jomo Wilson, who has racked up multiple touchdown catches in four consecutive games, crossing the 100-yard mark three times in that span as well.
Tampa Bay will have to work to contain Wilson, London Crawford and Jeron Harvey, who have all caught a touchdown pass in every game that they have played this season. That task is made tougher by the fact that the Storm are without Chris Smith, who leads the team with six interceptions but recently signed with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. Still, the Sharks will need to be wary of Jack linebacker Jean Fanor, who leads Tampa Bay with 55.5 total tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown in the teams’ first matchup of the season.
Special teams could be a big factor in this game. None of these two teams’ primary kick returners – Michael Lindsey for Tampa Bay, and a platoon of Smith and Wilson for Jacksonville – have returned a kickoff for a touchdown this season, as the Storm’s only return touchdown came on an onside kick attempt. If either team is able to break through with a return, the resulting swing in momentum could prove to be pivotal this week.
After Saturday’s game, the Sharks will head into their second bye week of the season. Jacksonville returns to action on Saturday, June 7, when the team hosts the Spokane Shock at 3:00 p.m. Tickets to this game may be purchased by calling the Sharks Ticket Office at 904-621-0700 or visiting jaxsharkstickets.com.
About the Jacksonville Sharks
The Jacksonville Sharks are members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The ArenaBowl XXIV and four-time South Division Champions are presented by Sea Best Seafood and play all home games on Sea Best Field at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Season Tickets for the 2014 season are now available, two tickets for as low as $105. To purchase your season tickets or for more information, please call (904) 621-0700. Follow the Sharks on facebook at facebook.com/jaxsharks and on Twitter @jaxsharks, as well as the Attack Dance Team at facebook.com/sharkattackdance and Chum at facebook.com/chumsharks.
About the AFL
Since its inception in 1987, the Arena Football League has showcased a fast-paced and exciting game to millions of fans in a myriad of markets across the country. The ESPN family of networks and CBS Sports Network will nationally broadcast AFL games each week for the entire season. The AFL schedule then culminates with the ArenaBowl Championship game live on ESPN.