The Atlanta Steam (1-0-1) are scheduled to be in action on Friday night against the Toledo Crush (0-1-1) in a matchup that pits Eastern Conference rivals. Atlanta, ranked No. 6 in the latest LFL Power Rankings, will be without rookie quarterback Dakota Hughes as a result of a broken wrist she suffered against Omaha in the Steam season opener. The 19-year old rookie was 9-for-17 passing for 102 yards and two touchdowns in the last minute victory despite playing most of the second half with the injury.
With Hughes out of action, Steam first-year Head Coach Dane Robinson made adjustments to his offense. The team had a couple of weeks of additional practice due to the cancellation of the Baltimore game, and seems confident. Since his first day as head coach, Robinson has focused on repetition and discipline and that has served him well during this challenging period. The players, as individuals and a team, have embraced the game plan and understand what they need to do to be successful against Toledo.
Jodie Nettles, Atlanta’s top receiver and No. 2 QB, will be behind center to lead a Steam offense that must have a better ground attack against the Crush than they displayed against the Heart to come home with a win.
The duo of Nas Johnson and Dee Salter shared backfield duties in the opener with Omaha, while Nettles was pulling in touchdown passes. Against Toledo, Johnson and Salter are both slated to start with Johnson in the backfield and Salter at receiver. Toledo is statistically the worse defense in the league due to their inability to stop the run, and having both Johnson and Salter on the field on every offensive snap will keep pressure on the Crush D on every play.
The Steam defense plays a physically intimidating style that wears opposing teams down, combine that with the reality that the Crush has displayed no ability to move the ball on the ground and it looks like Toledo will have a hard time getting to the end zone more than a couple of times on Friday night.
All of Toledo’s offense (164 yards) has come via the pass, and it seems likely that the Crush will have to go that route to attack Atlanta due to Coco Montgomery (All-Fantasy DE/TE) and Leanne Hardin (MLB) controlling the line of scrimmage, but look for safeties Alfye Gore and Sharlene Fuller (All-Fantasy S) to make big plays if Toledo gets pass happy.
It’s tough to win on the road in all sports, but even more so in the LFL. The travel rigors take their toll on visiting teams, as confirmed by the 3-6 mark road teams have this season, and Atlanta will have to deal with all that goes along with the 18+ hour day and step up with a big game.
Despite a debut by Toledo rookie QB Arika Hoffman (6-for-14 passing for 165 yards and four TD’s) that gave her a QB Rating of 96.7, Toledo remains the most beatable team in the league and gives Atlanta a great opportunity to pick up a road win. A road win with a reworked offense minus the No.1 QB would be big for the Steam and would set the stage for what could be a game of the year type contest on the final day of the regular season when Jacksonville is scheduled to travel to Atlanta.
A Stem win on Friday will put them in a tie with Jacksonville atop the Eastern Conference, meaning that the final game on the 2014 schedule would determine the conference champion-now that’s football!
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