In this week’s edition of the Force in Focus, Robert Pannier looks ahead to the Week 3 matchup against the Oklahoma Flying Aces and discusses a key matchup for the team in this contest. Plus, notes from around the club.
Wichita Force Take on Oklahoma Flying Aces
The Wichita Force (0-2) saw a lot of progress in Week 2 of the Champions Indoor Football League season, falling 47-37 to the Texas Revolution. The offense struggled early on but put up 19 points in the final frame as quarterback Joe Hubener threw four touchdown passes.
While the defense looked better, the biggest concern was that the defensive backs were simply not able to defend against taller receivers. Height was a huge advantage for opponents through the first two weeks, and was something that Head Coaches Rick Lee and Jerry Taylor were looking to address during the week.
If the league transaction reports were any indicator, then it looks like they opted to stand pat for Week 3. The Force did not make any transactions, but this may not be as big of issue as the Oklahoma Flying Aces do not appear like they can take advantage of this.
Rookie Jordan Payne is the only receiver for the Flying Aces who is over six foot (6’-2) and, at 6’-0 even, Darren Anderson should be able to position himself to fend off the rookie. Plus, Payne made just two catches in Oklahoma’s opening week loss to the Omaha Beef.
However, size may not be the biggest cause for concern. Former Oklahoma State standout wide receiver Josh Stewart had his way against Omaha in Week 1, making 9 catches for 120 yards and 3 touchdowns. Wichita will have to be able to slow him down, while not opening the door for QB Josh Floyd to have wide-0pen options elsewhere.
The Wichita Force have played tight coverage through the first two weeks but have simply been unable to stop teams because of the height advantage opponents have had. Some tough penalty calls last week did not help their chances either. This should be a matchup that heavily favors the Force if they can limit Stewart’s effectiveness.
This looks like the week where the team can earn their first victory of the season. Defensively, the Wichita Force match up well against the Flying Aces and the team’s offense looked much more efficient in the second half last week. They cannot afford to continue to play from behind each week, however, meaning they are going to need to put up at least 21 points in the first half against Oklahoma.
A Week to Review
For the third week in a row, the Wichita Force will be facing a team that did not play the week before, giving them additional time to create their scheme. Duke City was the opponent in Week 1 and Texas had the first weekend off. Now Oklahoma City had a bye week in Week 2 ahead of this contest.
Coaches Lee and Taylor explained before the year began that the schedule makers had done the team no favors early on, pitting them against the defending champions in Week 1, then taking on the 2017 champs in Week 2. However, it may be the extra time for opponents to prepare and rest that has been the worst blow of all. Fortunately, that will end next week when the team travels to Omaha to take on the Beef, who will be in Sioux City this week.
Jack Tomlinson had three touchdown receptions last Saturday, giving him four for the season, tied for third in the CIF. Tomlinson is quickly proving to be one of the most dangerous receivers in the league in his rookie campaign, as he is fourth in receiving yards per contest at 71.0 per game…The Wichita Force defense is in second in the league with 3 sacks, trailing only Duke City who has five…An area where the team is going to have to show dramatic improvement is on third down. Wichita is just 6 for 24 (25%) in third down conversions, ranked last.
By Robert Pannier