In this week’s edition of 5 Factors, I will again be previewing the Arizona Hotshots against the Salt Lake Stallions, or steed vs. speed, part 2, if you will. However, this time the Hotshots must take their undefeated record on the road to the elevated unknown of Salt Lake City, Utah. On the other side, the Stallions are still looking to clinch their first win of the season. The Stallions are not your typical 0-2, though. The Stallions had an intense and entertaining first half against the Hotshots in week one until quarterback Josh Woodrum was injured just before halftime. The Stallions have been without Woodrum since and an 0-2 record is the result. This is the first home game for the Stallions and despite their 0-2 record and the Hotshots 2-0 record, the game Saturday should be a good one. Without further ado, let’s examine this week’s game!
Anytime you’re talking about an outdoor game in the Mountain West region, the weather is always a factor, especially when you’re a team that is used to playing in the Arizona desert climate. For the Hotshots, the weather for Saturday is a good news-bad news situation. The good news is that no snow or any other precipitation is expected. The bad news is that it will be cold, 34 degrees to be exact. There will also be steady winds near 10 MPH. It took the Hotshots 3 quarters to get warm last week in Memphis; it will be even more difficult for the Hotshots to get warm in Salt Lake.
Chance Weather Plays A Factor: Likely
The Status of Stallions Quarterback Josh Woodrum
— Salt Lake Stallions (@aafstallions) February 19, 2019
As stated earlier, Stallions quarterback Josh Woodrum was hurt in week one against the Hotshots and hasn’t stepped on the field since. However, the status of Woodrum is still up in the air for this week’s matchup. However, I have a feeling Woodrum will be on the field because his return has been teased on the Stallions official Twitter account. The Stallions offense has functioned much better with Woodrum under center, and his return would set them up for much more success. I will be as bold to say if Woodrum plays, Salt Lake wins, if he doesn’t play, Arizona wins. Keep reading the article to see my prediction for the game.
Chance Josh Woodrum Plays: Likely
The Stallions Home Field Advantage
We’re coming home SLC and we’re challenging you to #ICEtheRICE.
— Salt Lake Stallions (@aafstallions) February 18, 2019
As we saw last week for the Hotshots, life on the road is much different than the friendly confines of Sun Devil Stadium. I acknowledge that the sample size is small, but if the performance at Memphis was any indicator, home field advantage will play a factor in this game. Home field advantage for the Stallions plays a bigger factor than just the weather being cold. The elevation is much higher; the air is thinner, you have a raucous college stadium full of Stallions fans that will be ready to make life difficult for the Hotshots. Some may ask, “what is the motivation for Stallions fans to show up?” Yes, the Stallions are 0-2, but they’re a competitive 0-2. Also, this is the first major professional football team the state of Utah has ever had. The Stallions organization have also been having ticket giveaway contests to ensure that the atmosphere is electric and that Stallion fans, #IceTheRice.
Chance Stallions Home Field Advantage Plays A Factor: Likely
A Fast Offensive Start For The Hotshots
— Arizona Hotshots (@aafhotshots) February 11, 2019
The Hotshots have been prolific on offense in 2019. However, the Hotshots have been doing almost all of their damage in the 2nd half. Arizona has scored 39 of their 58 points in the 2nd half, compared to only 19 in the first half. All 19 of those points came week one against this Stallions team. If the Hotshots hope to be 3-0, they must get off to a fast start like week one instead of the shutout they were held to last week in Memphis. The players to keep an eye on are, QB John Wolford, WR Rashad “Rocket” Ross, and the talented backfield of RB’s Justin Stockton, Tim Cook, and Jhurrell Pressley. If these playmakers get off to a fast start, it could be a long day for the Stallions. However, familiarity breeds contempt and the Stallions will be ready to make sure they do not give up 416 yards on defense like they did week 1.
Chance Hotshots Have A Fast Offensive Start: 50/50
Hotshots Stop Karter Schult
Kater Schult has arguably been the most disruptive force on any defensive line this season in the AAF. This season, Schult has 10 tackles and 3 sacks in 2 games, including 4 tackles and 1 sack in week one against the Hotshots. Why mention all these numbers? To put it literally and statistically, no one has been able to stop Karter Schult. A quick analysis of the Hotshots offensive line vs. Karter Schult reveals a huge mismatch in favor of the Stallions. The Hotshots have had numerous injuries on their offensive line that resulted in playing without either original starting tackle last week and starting a player that wasn’t even on the week one roster in Lene Maiava who has since been waived. To make a long story short, the Hotshots will again have a different starting offensive line than the week before. This is obviously not good for chemistry and continuity, but if anyone has the ability to overcome this obstacle, it is a talented team like the Hotshots. However, overcoming obstacles does take time, and Karter Schult waits for no one.
Chance Hotshots Stop Karter Schult: Not Likely
Unlike previous weeks, my five factors to the ball game include a lot of off the field factors. Why is that? If the early sample size of the AAF has taught us anything, it is that life on the road is difficult. Unfortunately for the Hotshots, Salt Lake may have the greatest home-field advantage outside of San Antonio in the AAF. I do believe the Hotshots are the most talented team, but the Stallions are the most desperate team, Stallions find a way to win in front of their home crowd.