The Tale of the Tape: Rattlers vs Blaze in the National Conference Final
The Arizona Rattlers remember all to well last years disappointing Arena Bowl loss, on the last play of the game, to the Jacksonville Sharks with no time left. Many of the players from last years team are again with the Rattlers, and are determined to make a statement. That Statement is: Beat the Utah Blaze on Saturday night at US Airways Center, and move on to the Arena Bowl, and take the title.
This is a team of destiny. Although their record of 13-5 was not as good as last years team of 16-2, this club has overcome adversity and knows how to win football games. Their record this year does not truly reflect how good they are. With many key injuries during the regular season as well as close and last minute losses, this team as they stand now is better than last years team.
Let’s look at the tale of the tape between the Arizona Rattlers and the Utah Blaze.
Nick Davila, 2011 MVP and 2012 Second-Team All-Arena honors goes against Utah’s record-setting Tommy Grady, who has been selected First-Team All-Arena. This will be one of the classic match ups of the year. Two exceptionally gifted quarterbacks.
Grady ranked #1 in passing average per game at 326.1. Davila ranked #4 with 305.6 yards per game.
Davila held the edge with respect to pass efficiency ranked #2 at 124.6, to Grady’s 7th rank at 119.7.
Grady holds the edge in total offense ranked #1 at 329.6 yards per game, to Davila’s #3 ranking at 308.1 yards per game.
Both teams have excellent receivers.
Utah’s Aaron Lesue, earned First-Team All-Arena honors. Lesue set single-season franchise records for points (340) and receiving touchdowns (56).
Arizona’s Maurice Purify also earned First-Team honors. Purify tied the single-season franchise record for points with 282 in 2012.
Utah has two receivers in the top 10 for receptions per game. Tysson Poots ranked #2 with 9.2 receptions per game, while Lesue ranked #6 with 8.61 receptions per game.
Purify was ranked #7 with 8.40 receptions per game.
In addition to Purify, the Rattlers have great depth at the wide receiver position. Kerry Reed and Jason Geathers add excellent talent and great skills with game breaking ability.
Receive yards per game
Purify led all receivers with 128.8 yards per game.
Poots ranked #7 at 106.1 yards per game.
Scoring offense per game.
The Blaze ranked #3 at 62.7 points per game, while the Rattlers were right on their heels ranked #4 at 62.1 points per game.
Scoring defense per game.
The Rattlers ranked #2 allowing 48.9 points per game, and the Blaze ranked #15 allowing 58.4 points per game.
The Rattlers rank #4 with a plus 10 margin. The Blaze rank #10 with a minus 4.
The Rattlers rank #1 making 9 out of 10 attempts. The Blaze rank #16 making 0 out of 2 attempts..
Although, football is won on the field and not through stats, there are 5 reasons why the Rattlers have the edge and will win this Saturday.
1. The biggest difference between the Rattlers and the Blaze is defense. With the Rattlers allowing only 48.9 points per game, and with the Blaze allowing 58.4 points per game, the game should be won on the strength of the Rattlers ability to stop the Blaze at key times and important situations. Tommy Grady and Nick Davila will each perform well and offset each other, yet players like defensive backs Arkeith Brown, Virgil Gray and Marquis Floyd will come up with several big plays. In addition, the front line of the Rattlers will need to continue to play well and put pressure on Grady. Look for a big game from Cliff Dukes and Marcus Pittman.
2. Usually, a big factor in winning football games is tied into turnovers. If you make mistakes and turn the ball over to good teams, they will usually burn you. The Rattlers have the edge in turnover margin, being a plus 10 on the season to the Blaze minus 4.
3. When two offensive giants get on the field it could be an offensive explosion, with both teams exchanging TD’s. Yet, if it comes down to a few seconds left in the game and the Rattlers need a field goal, they clearly have the edge over the Blaze. The Rattlers were ranked #1 making 9 out of 10 attempts for the year while the Blaze were 0 for 2. This can certainly create more options for Coach Kevin Guy. Another weapon!
4. Home field advantage. Although the Blaze had a very good road record this year at 6-3, the Rattlers fans are the X factor.
5. Last years AFL coach of the year, Kevin Guy is the best coach in the league and sets the tone for his players. His intensity, game plan, desire to win and ability to create a motivating and success oriented team environment will give the Rattlers an advantage.
The teams met twice this year with each team winning once. This is the rubber match. There is no tomorrow as they say in playoff football. Lose and go home; win and go to New Orleans and play in Arena Bowl XXV on August 10th.