The Edge

05/01/03 Coach John Bronkhorst

I won’t beat around the bush here, there are not very many games out there that really stand out to me as must see games.  The game I am choosing this week to break down is an intriguing match up because it’s Pacific Vs Atlantic.  Traditionally, the Pacific has not faired all that well versus the Atlantic in the regular season. 

So with out further adieu, lets break down…

Sioux Falls Storm (3-3) Vs. Ft. Wayne Freedom (2-3)


Sioux Falls:

I pretty much nailed it on the head last week about this team and this unit.  They are too inconsistent on offense to be considered a true contender.  Against an average Utah defense, they rushed for 36 yards and threw for 144 yards.  QB Ryan Johnson, I know some of you Storm fans think I am picking on this guy, was 8-18 for 106 yards 2 TD’s and 2 INT’s.  Not the kind of numbers you want out of your starting QB.  To Johnson’s credit, he is doing the best he can.  He is not blessed with a great deal of game breaker type players around him.  That still does not excuse him for his inconsistent QB play.  He has got to be more efficient with the ball.  On a positive note, this offense is doing a great job with their Red Zone opportunities.  Last week, they were inside the Warrior 20 – 8 times and scored on 5 possessions, with all 5 scores being TD’s.  I’m not privy to injury reports, but the fact that RB Justin Bivins did not carry the ball one time last week, has got to be a concern.  Cody Jamison filled in and carried the ball 14 times for 35 yards and 2 TD’s, but that’s a 1.9 yards/carry average.  OUCH!!!!  If Bivins is indeed injured, that puts more pressure on Johnson to carry this team.  The Storm has got to try to balance this attack out against the Freedom.  Ft. Wayne is giving up 109 yards on the ground and 148 yards thru the air.  If I am the coach of the Storm, I’m trying my best to figure out how we are going to run this ball down their throats.  That will open the secondary up to Johnson, which will allow him to be more effective. 

Ft. Wayne:

This team is much better than their record indicates.  That’s because of this unit.  I really like this offensive unit.  It averages 45 points/game, 73 yards on the ground and 160 thru the air.  The man at the helm is QB Antoine Taylor.  Taylor is completing 54.8% of his passes; he is 68-124 for 849 yards, 22 TD’s and 8 INT’s.  His QB rating is 99.87.  Rockey Harvey is the team leading rusher with 234 yards on 62 carries and 5 TD’s.  Taylor is the teams 2nd leading rusher with 145 yards on 23 carried and 5 TD’s.  Harvey is averaging 3.5 yards/carry and Taylor is averaging 5.9 yards/carry.  Taylor is clearly the man, but is not asked to do everything.  I like the versatility of Harvey; he is 3rd on the team in receiving with 12 rec. for 160 yards and 3 TD’s.  When the Freedom offense gets inside their opponents 20, they are going to score.  They are 20-26 with 20 TD’s this season.  This team needs to attack the Storm defense thru the air.  Sioux Falls is surrendering 189 yards/game thru the air, but only 43 yards on the ground.  It is still important for Ft. Wayne to attack this defense on the ground to keep them honest, but I feel the real success will come on the arm of Taylor.


Sioux Falls:

This defense got its feelings hurt last week when Danny Ragsdale of Utah torched them for 375 yards and 8 TD’s.  This Storm defense is better than the one that showed up last week.  This team can flat out stop the run.  It has only surrendered 43 yards/game on the ground, that’s a 2.7 yards/carry average.  That’s very impressive.  The weakness comes in the form of the pass defense.  Opponents are completing 61% of their passes against the Storm, who surrender 189 yards/game.   They have a tough task this week, they are dealing with a Freedom offense that is very balanced in their attack and likes to spread the ball to different players.  If the Storm sell out to stop the run, Taylor is a good enough and accurate enough to have a Ragsdale type night.  The run game is the weaker area for the Freedom offense, so this may help the Storm defense not waste so much energy on stopping the run and concentrate on getting the pass game shut down.  Also, I expect to see the Storm drop their LB back into a zone versus the pass and use him less as a pass rusher.  The Storm front 3 will have to get pressure on Taylor in order for this to work.  If they have to start using their LB as a pass rusher, then that puts a lot of pressure on an already suspect secondary. 

Ft. Wayne:

This unit has got to be the biggest concern for this coaching staff.  They are giving up 45.8 points/game, 258 yards/game (109 rushing/148 passing).  Opposing QB’s are completing 59% of their passes.  However, for the Freedom this week they get a favorable offense to help fix some of their defensive woes.  If Storm RB Justin Bivins is out again this week, that will take pressure off the front 3 and LB.  Bivins has 259 yards rushing, averages 4.0 yards/carry.  If this holds true, they will be able to focus their energy on stopping QB Johnson and make him be the difference maker.  This will allow Rachman Crable (26 Tackles/3 Sacks) and Alf Fertil (15 tackles/3 Sacks) to put a lot of pressure on Johnson all night.


Sioux Falls:

Return Game:  Bobby Perkins is an outstanding return specialist.  He is averaging 16.4 yards/return.  If he can get his average and give the offense a short field to work with, there is a chance that the Storm can dominate this game.

Kicking Game:  Adam Hicks is 38.5% in FG Attempts.  Come on son, you are a pro now, they pay you to kick, DO YOUR JOB!!!

Ft. Wayne:

Return Game:  The Freedom sport 2 very solid return specialists, in Brian Gaines and Jamar Cottee.  Gaines averages 13.4 yards/return and Cottee averages 18.0 yards/return.

Having 2 is deadly and can make for a long night for a defense that has to spend most of the night defending a short field. 

Kicking Game:  John Diettrich is a whopping 18.2% in FG attempts.  There aren’t enough words to try and comment on this.  See Sioux Falls kicking game comments.


This game should be a good.  Both teams have talent and play very hard.  Although in the future I will be a Pacific guy, I have to go with history here.  Atlantic over the Pacific.

Ft. Wayne – 45

Sioux Falls – 38

See you next week.

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