Coming into week 2 the Birmingham Iron host the Salt Lake Stallions in what looks to be an exciting show of offenses. Can that Iron Curtain defense contain the balanced attack led by Josh Woodrum? Let’s have a look at what Birmingham needs to do in order to secure another victory at home.
- Slow down Karter Schult.
The young Defensive End caused quite a ruckus against Arizona in week 1. With excellent quickness and strength, Schult is able to win at the snap and shed blocks. He has a knack for getting into the backfield, resulting in negative plays and sacks. Over the course of his two final seasons at Northern Iowa, he racked up a combined 31 sacks! He has the capability to drop into zone coverage as well as seal his end of the defensive line in the run game. If Birmingham wants to move the ball successfully, they need to keep this guy bottled up.
- Win in the trenches.
This seems to be a prerequisite to winning any football game. It is extremely important to physically dominate the opponent at the line of scrimmage. However, this was not an area Birmingham had a lot of success in against the Express in week 1. Offensively and defensively, the guys up front were pushed off the ball and mostly ineffective in the run game. Salt Lake brings in an Offensive line averaging 325 lbs and is built to run the football. Don’t sleep on their ability to pass block though. In order to win, the Iron must stop that aggressive Stallion’s defensive line from getting to Perez and keep Josh Woodrum and his stable of running backs in check with the front 4.
- Score touchdowns in the red zone.
Yet another of those obvious must win points. Yet another area the Iron had trouble with week 1. Everyone knows Nick Novak can still boot it now. We want to see the offense have the success past the 20 it enjoyed between them. With athletic Tight Ends such as Busta Anderson and now Weslye Saunders on the roster, the Iron have strong red zone targets. The struggles last week were a product of the lack of push the line was able to achieve in the run game, despite Trent Richardson’s two late-game TD runs. To beat the Stallions Birmingham can’t rely on the kicker, even if he is the reigning AAF Special Teams Player of the Week. They have to score inside the 20s.
- Catch the football!
I take nothing away from Quinton Patton and his impressive 107-yard performance. He went 4 of 9 and had an incredible diving catch in the 3rd quarter. He also had 3 really bad drops that were catchable well-thrown balls. Amba Etta-Tawo also suffered from the drops with 3 bad ones of his own. Against a very good Salt Lake team, every play counts. Mental errors will win or lose the game for one team or the other.
The Salt Lake secondary was exposed by Arizona and Birmingham has the ability to stretch the field and beat teams deep. A receiver creating separation and the quarterback delivering a great pass is no good if the receiver does not secure the catch though.
- Control Time of Possession
Both teams have very good running backs. The Iron need to be able to keep the ball away from the Stallions by using those backs. This means converting on 3rd down and getting that necessary push to open the running lanes. If they can not make their opponent respect the run, then the passing game will falter. Play action and moving the pocket will be important to freeze the rush and make linebackers stay home.
The Stallions favor combo coverages and will use their linebackers in coverage with zones over the middle. Utilizing the rollout and swing passes to the flat will help to negate the push-up front by the Salt Lake D Line and remove the linebackers from the play.
This game has Game of the Week potential written all over it. Out of all the teams who lost on opening weekend, the Stallions were by far the most impressive. Both teams can exploit the other based on scheme alone. They match up very well and I for one am excited to see this play out on the field. Tune in to TNT @ 2 pm EST/ 1 pm Central this Saturday and see if the Iron Gate slams shut on yet another opponent. Until next time #ForgeOn