The Orlando Apollos looked a little shaky last week against the Memphis Express. Though the 21-17 final score doesn’t tell the whole story (the Apollos did finish the game on the 1-yard line), it did give the Apollo faithful a bit of a scare. Now, Orlando must travel to the “Frozen Tundra” (by Florida standards) of Salt Lake and compete in a night game that has forecasted rain or snow around game time. Here are my three keys to victory in the Apollos vs. Stallions game.
Establish the run early
This one appears on almost all of my keys to victory articles, and for a good reason. The Apollos in the last two weeks have played three-quarters of passing football followed by a fourth quarter of keep away running football. They will dabble in the run game early, but if it is stopped up once or twice, they tend to go away from it and lean on Garrett Gilbert and the passing game. According to Pro Football Focus AAF twitter account, D’Ernest Johnson is the highest graded running back with 20 or more carries. If the Apollos want to win on the road, in possibly inclement weather, they will need to let these extremely talented running backs find a rhythm early. In the press conference last week, Coach Spurrier did mention a lack of audible systems in place to check runs and avoid running into the teeth of the defense. Hopefully, the fans see that mitigated and can watch the run game prosper.
Slow down Karter Schult
I know, I know, easier said than done. Schult has been a menace to opposing quarterbacks all season so far. Once again, thanks to our friends at PFF, we see that Schult ranks second in QB pressures (19) and first in stops (11). He also has at least one sack in the first three games and is hungry to continue his streak. The Apollos are going to have to do a better job protecting Gilbert than they did in week two against the Commanders, an away game where Gilbert was sacked four times. It will be interesting to see the approach that Spurrier and staff implement to disrupt and slow Schult down.
Stay disciplined on special teams
Not as fancy, not as obvious, but the Apollos will have to be disciplined on special teams if they want to win. If any team knows the agony of missed opportunities on special teams, it would be the Stallions. In week two against the Iron, the Stallions missed three field goals, fumbled the snap of a fourth, and fumbled a punt return that went for a touchdown in favor of the Iron. That is an EXTREME case of undisciplined special teams, but the Apollos might not be able to come away with the W if they commit just one of those mistakes. Every punt needs to be fielded cleanly, every field goal could prove necessary, and on the inverse side, Apollos punts need to be covered tightly, and extra penalty yards need to be avoided. This one is a “thank you, Captain Obvious,” but this game could be won or lost on one small miscue on special teams.
Those are my three keys to victory in the Apollos vs. Stallions game. What do YOU think the Orlando Apollos will have to do to beat Salt Lake? Let us know by following us and communicating via our social media!
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