Preds take 6-3 mark into game against Mustangs
Following a bye last week at the midway point of the Arena Football League season, the Orlando Predators returned to work Sunday in preparation for Thursday’s game on the road against the Milwaukee Mustangs.
The game will be broadcast live on 740 AM The Game beginning at 7:30 p.m. and at NiftyTV.com. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m.
The time off for the Predators (6-3) came at the right moment in the season as they prepare for two-straight games away from home. Orlando will play at Iowa on June 4.
“We really needed it,” Preds coach Pat O’Hara said of the break. “I think we all feel refreshed and ready to go.”
As a former player himself, O’Hara knows what to expect from his team as they return to the field.
“I always felt great coming back from a bye week, and really appreciated my job a little more,” he said. “I think it’s a positive.”
The Preds take on a Milwaukee (3-6) team that’s won two of its last three games including a 65-53 win over the Utah Blaze, who have the No. 1 offense in the league.
Despite its record, the Mustangs have moved to the top of the standings in total defense by allowing just 260.1 yards per game. They now rank third in pass defense at 243.4 yards allowed.
Andre Jones leads Milwaukee with 44.5 tackles and six interceptions while Kelvin Rodgers has added 40 tackles and four interceptions. The Mustangs have recorded seven sacks as a team.
Planning to counter that defensive toughness will be Preds quarterback Nick Hill, who leads the No. 2 offense in the league at 324.4 yards per game. Robert Quiroga (63 rec, 805 yards, 12 TDs), T.T. Toliver (60 rec, 745 yards, 16 TDs), Bobby Sippio, (54 rec, 656 yards, 13 TDs) and Josh Bush (30 rec, 398 yards, 10 TDs) are each averaging over 12.1 yards per catch on the year.
Hill enters Thursday night the league leader in total offense with 329.4 yards per game. He’s also second in total rushing yards (240 yards and 9 TDs on 53 carries); third in passing yards per game (302.8), and fourth in pass efficiency (120.6).
Of course it doesn’t hurt to practice day in and day out against a defense as opportunistic as the Predators have proved to be.
The Preds held the Cleveland Gladiators to just 26 points their last time out. This week they’ll face off against a Milwaukee team that ranks near the bottom of the league in scoring (43.9 points) and total offense (260.8 yards) per game.
With 20 interceptions and seven fumble recoveries on the year the Preds will be looking to pick back up where they left off before the break.
Rayshaun Kizer (53 tackles, 8 INTs), Marlon Moye-Moore (36 tackles, 5 INTs) and Travis Coleman (43.5 tackles, 4 INTs) lead the charge defensively for Orlando while Mark Robinson (4.5 sacks) and Paul Griffin (4 sacks) have combined for 26.5 tackles.
Kizer’s impressive season carries on as he’s currently second in the AFL in interceptions and seventh in the league with 5.9 tackles per game.
The Mustangs have split time at quarterback with R.J. Archer and Eric Ward under center. Damian Harrell leads the team in receiving with 60 receptions for 655 yards and seven touchdowns. Brent Holmes (38 rec, 347 yards, 5 TDs) and Ernest Smith (34 rec, 435 yards, 2 TDs) are also contributing at wide receiver.
A year ago the Preds split two games against Milwaukee, winning 58-54 at home in Week 8 and losing 57-41 on the road in Week 16. Orlando leads the all-time series 5-2 dating back to 1994.