This is the AAF with 12 Oz Sports Radio and AAF Radio Now. After attending the Arizona Hotshots vs. the Memphis Express at Liberty Bowl Stadium in Memphis, TN last weekend, I feel refreshed and ready to present my keynotes from Saturday night’s game into the paper. Here it goes AAF Fans! Enjoy.
- 39 degrees, Humidity at 84%, Light Rain throughout the game. Press Box Weather: 99% chance I had the best BBQ I have ever eaten in my life. Big thank you to Memphis for the great food in the box!
- 11,980, but the ACTUAL number of fans was less than that. Here are my 4 takes on everyone bashing the attendance:
- The Tennessee/Kentucky basketball game (ranked 1st and 7th in the nation) was on at the same time. Tennessee is a basketball state.
- Memphis has always struggled with attendance. Even the NFL when it was in Memphis for one season the Tennessee Oilers struggled with attendance. The Memphis Showboats WITH “The Minister of Defense”, Reggie White couldn’t get decent attendance either, which they are probably kicking themselves now about that.
- Although the crowd was small, they could be heard from the press box where I was sitting on key plays. Hotshots quarterback stated after the game that the Express fan base was “a rowdy bunch”, especially behind the Hotshots bench.
- The rain was in the forecast, rain scared fans away from the game.
Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities: Memphis Express
- They kept John Wolford, last week’s AAF player of the week contained in the first half. 8/15, 57 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT and a QB rating of 22.8. This shows that this defense led by DeMarquis Gates again this week can hold up, even though they blew the game in the 4th quarter. Channing Stribling’s injury was a HUGE loss for this team at the end of the game as I feel like he is a top 3 Corner in all the AAF.
- On most teams, the quarterback is the leader on offense, but in my opinion, Zac Stacy is that guy. He is the AAF’s first 100-yard rusher in a game, and I expect him to carry the load of the offense for weeks to come.
- Reece Horn was more in the playbook this week, with 5 catches and 56 yards receiving. Can you imagine him without Hackenberg how good he could be? Has an extremely high ceiling, a D-2 player out of the University of Indianapolis.
- If I had a dollar for every time in Christian Hackenberg’s press conference he said “we need to get better” I would have had a 100 dollars in that whole ten minutes. Had a slightly better week this week with a completion percentage of 56% BUT you can’t win ball games with yards per attempt number of 4.1 and two fumbles. Mike Singletary needs to make a change fast before Memphis is too deep in the armpit too deep in the AAF standings.
- Closing out games. This defense cannot close out games. Week 1 and Week 2, we’ve seen the Express give them a game up in the 4th quarter and give up multiple big plays to lose the game. It’s almost like Memphis needs to start in prevent defense early in the 4th quarter.
- Memphis controlled the clock against one of the best teams in the AAF for three-quarters and were winning by 12, what else can they do on all avenues to make sure they can win ball games? Coach Singletary seemed very on edge after the game, I think personnel changes are made this week.
- Memphis’s average drive started on their 43-yard line compared to Arizona starting on their own 26. Given that there are no kickoffs, this is phenomenal they were able to push the ball up the field with everything combined. How offensively can they capitalize better on this excellent field position? We know Stacy can run and Jasper can kick from anywhere, they just have to score points.
Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities: Arizona Hotshots:
- The 3 punch (what I call it) of Stockton, Pressley, Cook combined for 184 yards rushing this week. I had the luxury to ask Coach Neuheisel after the game which back impressed him the most. He gave me the best and the 1st answer I’ve ever gotten in the “press”, he rattled off every running back that played and said how one thing he loves about these guys is they just want to impress you. This is clear that the Hotshots have all the tools to make a championship run.
- The ability to overcome adversity, that’s what this team has. They played the worst half of football I would have never expected to happen. They didn’t quit, they did everything in their power to beat Memphis in that second half. This wasn’t just on one side of the ball either, the defense picked up their slack as well and came thru with a winning result.
- Well for the bettors, they did not cover the modest spread of -16 that most of America expected of them. But besides the degenerate bettors, we saw a different John Wolford in that first half. It looked from the press box that he was forcing passes that were not there, which against the Stallions, I did not see that at all. He is proven human after an AAF player of the week in Week 1.
- Getting Scooby Wright in the action. This is a player that was all over the field at Arizona. He totaled 3 tackles in the game against Memphis, this playmaker needs to get more involved in the defense, even though Stephen Johnson is outstanding.
- Will Rick Neuheisel keep the 3 back punch throughout the season? He has a great problem to have, but will he sway more towards one guy as the season goes on?
- In Week 1, it seemed Wolford got all his receivers involved, this week I noticed more targets towards Rashad Ross and Josh Huff. Is that his one-two punch throughout the year? Or will he get more guys involved?
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