I am now “Walking in Memphis” with this Memphis Express preview of their game against the Arizona Hotshots. I will be live from Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium here in Memphis, TN. With the game tonight, I will be breaking down what we know about the away team, the Arizona Hotshots and what the Express can do to get a much-needed home win at the Liberty Bowl.
Hotshots Last Week: Won at home vs. Salt Lake Stallions 38-22.
- Lead by AAF passing leader John Wolford, the Hotshots really showed why they are potentially the best team in the AAF. Channing Stribling is my player to watch for us this week. The Hotshots are loaded with weapons at receiver and made the Stallions defensive backs look on edge last week. Stribling will more than likely be covering the talented receiver, Rashad Ross of the Hotshots. How can the other corners get more involved in stopping John Wolford and their excellent passing attack they have created thus far?
- Looking at the rushing attack of the Hotshots, they have a 1-2 punch in Jhurell Pressley and Justin Stockton. We need DeMarquis Gates and Anthony Johnson in the backfield getting after these two. Johnson and Gates combined for 2 TFL, last week but I expect more from them this week to keep that rushing attack contained.
- We saw the struggles from last week from Christian Hackenberg, he will need to take note of Robert Nelson and Steven Johnson when dropping back to pass. These two created 2 INT for the Hotshots last week and I expect them to be in the equation this week as well. It will be up to Hackenberg to make quick throws, and I feel like Reece Horn is a well-sized receiver that may be his breath of fresh air this week.
- As strong as the Hotshots were defensively last week, they only accumulated 2 TFL as a team. Zac Stacy is the guy for the Express to take advantage of this, who tallied about 60 yards rushing with 5.0 (half a first down). The Hotshots did pour on the points last week, but their rush defense is nothing to ride home about as they did allow 22 points, which I feel with the key injuries for the Stallions to Woodrum, etc. doesn’t look great on paper.
Hotshots Special Teams:
- The Hotshots were 2/3 on field goals last week in a desert climate with Nick Folk. He did hit a long 53 yarder, but based on my weather analysis, the wind will blow more in Memphis than he endured last week.
Keys to this Game:
- On the score sheet, Memphis was shutout but what folks don’t realize is the bulk of the Iron’s scoring came in the 2nd half. It will be up to the Express defense to not let the Hotshots score early.
- Can Christian Hackenberg get more comfortable this week with his receiving core? His accuracy will be key this week after only completing just under 44% of his passes last week. I think the Hotshots bring a similar or slightly better defense in comparison to the Birmingham Iron.
- I expect DeMarquis Gates will again be another key part of the Express defense this week. The Express are playing again this week against a passing offense that’s very outstanding similar to Birmingham. The likes of Channing Stribling and Arnold Tarpley will need to be stronger this week and stop the big plays Arizona accumulated last week. If they can do this, this game will be a close battle.
- I am very curious about how the fan turnout will be in Memphis. Memphis hasn’t had a pro football team since the now-defunct USFL Memphis Showboats back in the mid-1980s. Can the Express fan base find a Reggie White type excitement as they had back then? I’ll be the judge later today.
I will be tweeting LIVE updates of this matchup on the 12 Oz Sports Twitter account (@12ozsports). Be on the lookout!
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