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Shock-Blaze preview

Caught up with Shock coach Rob Keefe just before he was boarding a morning flight to Salt Lake City. As he stated earlier in the week, Keefe made a couple of adjustments to the roster, but not wholesale changes.

Read on for my unedited advance. Also, SWX announced that it will televise the game on a tape-delayed basis at 8 p.m. (kickoff is at 6) Friday.

By Jim Meehan

jimm@spokesman.com; (208) 765-7131

True to his word, Spokane Shock head coach Rob Keefe tinkered with the roster, but didn’t make wholesale changes from Week 1 to Week 2.

The same 23 players remain on Spokane’s Arena Football League roster. However, the 20 that suit up against Utah tonight at the E Center in Salt Lake City will include three players who were on the inactive list for the Shock’s 74-62 season-opening loss to the Milwaukee.

The only adjustment to the starting lineup will be Rod Mosley at middle defensive back in place of Travis Williams. Mosley played for arenafootball2 Corpus Christi last season. Former Eastern Washington Eagle Harrison Nikolao and ex-Idaho State Bengal Eddie Thompson, both Week 1 inactives, should see playing time. Nikolao could play on the defensive front and/or at fullback. Thompson should get some snaps at receiver. DE Jeremy Geathers and WR Quorey Payne, who returned a kickoff for a touchdown, join Williams on the inactive list.

“This isn’t a knock on any player that suited up last week, but we have to see what the others can do and get to the bye week (after the third game) when we have four guys coming off injured-reserve,” Keefe said. “We have to keep preparing to get that core group of guys for later in the season.”

Keefe expects to see considerable improvement from last week. He said the team had a “great week” of practice.

“You’re only as good as your last game and we lost our last game,” Keefe said. “We have to prove to this league that we’re a good team. I believe Milwaukee and us are two very good teams that happened to meet in the first week. If the Vikings and Saint play in the first week, somebody has to lose.”

For the second straight game, Keefe isn’t quite sure what to expect from the opponent. He’s familiar with many of the Utah players and even recruited a couple, but it’s the Blaze’s first game so there isn’t any game tape or a starting lineup.

Brett Elliott, who played at Linfield College and was a reserve for AFL San Jose in 2008, is the probable starter at quarterback. He’s competing against Michael Affleck, son of one of the team’s owners. Wendell Williams and Aaron Boone, who was a 2008 Utah teammate of Spokane’s Huey Whittaker, are proven AFL receivers. Defensive lineman Caesar Rayford played part of last season with the Shock in af2.

“We called Brett to see where he was and he thought going to Utah was the best situation for him,” Keefe said.

Keefe said receiver Raul Vijil and defensive back William Mulder will probably return kicks. Vijil was one of the top return specialists in af2.

 




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Jim Meehan
Jim Meehan's coverage areas include Gonzaga University men's basketball, Spokane Shock football, golf and volleyball. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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