04/14/2011 1:00 PM -
The Jacksonville Sharks (3-1) will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the newest franchise in the AFL, the Pittsburgh Power (2-2) on April 16, 2011 at 7:00PM EDT at the CONSOL Energy Center. This weekends game will be the first ever contest between Jacksonville and Pittsburgh. The game will be broadcasted on 1010XL and it will also be streamed live on niftytv.com.
The Pittsburgh Power feature six former members of the Jacksonville Sharks inaugural program, including the explosive receiver Jason Willis, who totaled 79 receptions for 806 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Sharks in 2010. Also, the former offensive coordinator for the Sharks, Chris Siegfried, is the current Head Coach for the Power. The Power currently rank second in the Eastern Division, behind undefeated Cleveland, who the Sharks play next weekend.
Jacksonville looks to continue its three-game win streak, after coming off of the first bye week of the season. The Sharks are 1-1 all-time after coming off the bye, and 0-1 on the road after coming off the bye. In the Sharks last game, the stout Jacksonville defense held the Tampa Bay Storm to only 30 points, the second lowest ever, to give the Sharks their first road win of the season. The defense is also on a two-game streak allowing less than 40 points in a game. Jacksonville also leads the Southern Division in points scored (241) and least points allowed (175).
The starting Quarterback for the Power, Bernard Morris, is on injured reserve due to pulled shoulder muscle, suffered in the Week Two game against Iowa. The replacement for Morris, Kevin McCabe, has thrown for 9 touchdowns and 369 yards since replacing Morris at quarterback. The former Jacksonville Kicker, Paul Edinger, who is currently kicking for Pittsburgh, is ranked second in the AFL in PAT kicking percentage (91%).
Since the first game of the season, the Sharks have been on the rise on both sides of the ball. Coming into Week 6, Jacksonville has two receivers, Jeron Harvey and Jomo Wilson, who rank in the top 10 in scoring per game. Jeff Hughley also returned from his injury with 41 yards and 2 touchdowns against Tampa. Sharks Fullback, Kirby Griffin, ran for 33 yards and 2 touchdowns against Tampa, which are his highest of the year in both categories. On defense, Rookie Defensive Back LaRoche Jackson, broke the Sharks single-game record for tackles with 11 against Tampa. Jackson currently ranks second in the AFL in tackles (33.5), and third in the AFL in tackles per game (8.4).
The Sharks are looking to stay on top of the South Division with the first non-divisional win of the 2011 season thanks to big performances on both sides of the ball. With a +3 turnover ratio, the Sharks have proven the ability to make big plays. Sharks Quarterback Aaron Garcia also looks to make it 4 consecutive games with as many or more touchdown passes than incomplete passes.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR: After shutting down the league leader in sacks Tampa Bay Defensive End, Cliff Dukes, in the Week 4 game, the Sharks Offensive Line will have another challenge in Gary Butler. Butler ranks second in the AFL, only behind Dukes, in sacks (3) through 4 games. However, the Jacksonville Offensive Line has only allowed 3 sacks throughout the 2011 season. The Jacksonville Defense ranks 4th in points allowed per game (43.8) and the Pittsburgh Defense is ranked 5th (44.5), just behind Jacksonville, which hints at the possibility of a strong defensive contest between the two non-divisional opponents.