Date: Saturday, February 23 at 3 pm ET Live From Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City
The Arizona Hotshots will try to remain undefeated when they face the winless Salt Lake Stallions for the second and final time this season. These two teams combined for 60 points in their last game which saw the Hotshots win by a score of 38-22. The Hotshots came storming back in the fourth quarter last week to narrowly defeat the Memphis Express by a score of 20-18. Arizona couldn’t get much going through the first three quarters and they had troubles stopping Memphis’ running game.
The Stallions fought hard in their Week 2 game in Birmingham but ultimately came up short losing 12-9. After leading most of the game, Salt Lake fell victim to a Trent Richardson scoring run with under five minutes remaining. Salt Lake was also victimized by their kicker, Taylor Bertolet, who missed three consecutive field goal attempts.
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Can Arizona Stop The Run?
Arizona’s defense is far from a juggernaut although they have been quite good against the pass. However, teams have been able to pile up rushing yards against them. Last week, Memphis’ Zac Stacy had 19 carries in which he racked up 101 yards and a touchdown. Granted, his 5.3 yards per carry might be a little inflated seeing that one of his rushes went for 49 yards. Memphis quarterback Christian Hackenberg added to the rushing attack with seven carries for 39 yards. In all, Arizona gave up 175 yards on the ground.
This week, Arizona will be facing a pretty good rushing attack with Salt Lake’s Joel Bouagnon and Branden Oliver leading the way. Last week against a tough Birmingham defense, Bouagnon rushed for 70 yards on 11 carries while Oliver added 59 yards on 11 carries. With Matt Asiata also lurking in the shadows, Arizona will have its hands full.
Can The Stallions Get Their Passing Game Going?
Austin Allen didn’t have a great game in Week 2 and it is yet to be seen if Josh Woodrum is ready to return. Either way, Salt Lake needs to improve their passing game. 15 of 31 for 114 yards and 3.7 yards per attempt won’t cut it. Of course, it isn’t just the quarterbacks’ fault. The receivers need to do a better job at getting open and guys like Adonis Jennings can’t be dropping easy passes. A few big plays would really help Salt Lake’s cause. Last week, Branden Oliver came out of the backfield to catch a pass that went for 20 yards. That was the Stallions’ longest passing play of the game.
Salt Lake can’t afford to leave points on the field against Arizona which means that Taylor Bertolet can’t go 1 for 4 in field goal attempts again. Last week’s game could have had a completely different outcome if he had been able to convert his opportunities. Bertolet made the highlight reels last week but it was for the wrong reasons.
Arizona is seen by many as one of the best teams in the AAF but they still need to improve in a few areas. The Hotshots were favored by 4.5 points when they met Salt Lake in Week 1 in Arizona. This week, they are 4.5-point road faves. Salt Lake isn’t as bad as their 0-2 record might indicate and they are playing at home for the first time this year. The Stallions can have success with an effective running game and they should at least be able to keep this one close. They might even pull off the upset.
The Pick: Salt Lake Stallions +4.5
The Over/Under is sitting at 46 at most books and that seems like a reachable number considering these two teams combined for 60 points in the first meeting. Even though John Wolford and the Arizona pass attack did well against the Stallions in Week 1, this match sets up to be a run-heavy game.
The Pick: Under 46 points