06/08/2016 8:32 AM
JACKSONVILLE - The Jacksonville Sharks look to get back on the winning track this week, as the team will travel to take on the Tampa Bay Storm on Saturday, June 11. Kickoff from Tampa’s Amalie Arena is set for 5:00 p.m.
Saturday’s away game will be the second of three regular-season meetings between Jacksonville (4-5) and Tampa Bay (1-8). In the Sharks’ Week 5 trip to Amalie Arena, Jacksonville came away with a 33-27 win over the Storm winning 33-27. The Storm will make their way to Jacksonville for the regular-season finale on July 31.
Last week, the Sharks were not able to keep up with the Philadelphia Soul for the full sixty minutes. After the game was tied at the end of the first, second and third quarters, Jacksonville went scoreless in the fourth and ultimately fell by a 56-42 count.
In the loss, Reggie Gray made an immediate impact in his first game as a Shark, recording eight receptions for 66 yards and finding the end zone twice before halftime. Gray also returned a kickoff the length of the field for a touchdown, a play that was recognized as the AFL Highlight of the Week. Gray joins Tiger Jones and Joe Hills in forming a dangerous trio at receiver, and the Sharks will look for all three players to contribute this week.
After scoring 19 touchdowns on 20 full possessions in the previous two games, the Jacksonville offense was stopped five times, as an interception, three turnovers on downs and the end of the first half held Jacksonville under the 50-point mark for the first time since before the bye week. Despite last week’s game, Tommy Grady remains one of the league’s most efficient passers, as he has thrown 52 touchdowns against only four interceptions and ranks second in the League with a 123.8 passer rating.
Jacksonville will also need to generate more consistent stops on defense this week. Though the Sharks recovered two fumbles - one midway through the second quarter and one to open the third - the defense did not record another stop, as Philadelphia’s Dan Raudabaugh completed 21 of his 25 pass attempts and led the Soul to eight offensive touchdowns.
Matching up against a Tampa Bay team that has turned the ball over 21 times in nine games and has converted on just 37 percent of its third-down opportunities, Jacksonville will look to force the Storm offense into unfavorable situations and capitalize on mistakes.
In the all-important third phase of the game, the Sharks aim to put together another strong collective performance on special teams. In addition to Gray’s kickoff return touchdown, Keon Lyn forced a fumble that David Hyland recovered and the kicking operation was flawless, as Lindsey Wolfe connected on all six point-after attempts.
On Saturday, the Sharks will face a Tampa Bay team that has had a roller-coaster two weeks. After defeating the Arizona Rattlers two weeks ago, the Storm headed out to the West Coast and fell to the previously winless Portland Steel, 68-35. Jacksonville will no doubt have to contend with a motivated Storm squad that hopes to put on a much better performance this week.
Behind center for the Storm offense, Jason Boltus is on track to start his fifth game this season. Boltus’ ability to move in and out of the pocket makes him a threat, as he is the Storm’s leading rusher and has scored four times on the ground. Boltus’ top target is longtime veteran wide receiver T.T. Toliver, who needs just 27 yards to surpass Damian Harrell (15,134) and become the Arena Football League’s all-time leading receiver.
On the other side of the ball, Tampa Bay is ranked in the bottom half of the League in defense. The Storm have forced a total of 12 turnovers (six fumbles and six interceptions) - the fewest among all AFL teams - and are yielding an average of 54.8 points per game.
As they take the field on Saturday, the Sharks look to earn their second win in as many tries at Amalie Arena. Kickoff in Tampa is set for 5:00 p.m. in Tampa.
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 2016 season are now available, two tickets as low as $99. To reserve 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.