For the first time in a month Spokane begins the work week knowing who will start at quarterback.
Erik Meyer will start against his former employer Utah on Saturday in an Arena Football League game with playoff implications for both teams. Meyer left in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss at Arizona with severe cramping after leading the offense to scores on six of seven possessions.
“We felt he did enough to prove to us that he deserves to be a starter,” head coach Rob Keefe said.
Meanwhile, Utah, tied with Spokane at 7-8 heading into Saturday’s outdoor game at Albi Stadium, lost starting quarterback Tommy Grady and No. 2 Jordan Rasmussen to injuries in a 59-35 loss to Chicago. Similar to Spokane’s win over Dallas in which Kyle Rowley and Bill Stull were injured, the Blaze had a wide receiver handle snaps in the fourth quarter.
“I’ll be looking for the transactions to see what happens,” Keefe said. “We’ll prepare like it’s Tommy – the word we hear is they’re going to sign another quarterback – but we’ll prepare for the best.”
Meyer suffered a full-body cramp and hobbled off the field. He was replaced by Rowley.
“I’ve never experienced anything like that before with my whole body,” Meyer said. “I was so exhausted, dehydrated, I was cramping for a good 35 minutes after that. I got an IV on the sidelines.”
Receiver Adron Tennell also left in the second half with cramping.
“We went all week drinking water and Gatorade preparing for it,” Tennell said, “but as soon as we stepped off the plane we just felt the heat.”
Meyer was 21 of 30 with four touchdowns, one interception and one rushing touchdown. Meyer, who missed the New Orleans game two weeks ago with a concussion, was able to withstand a couple of hits, one that sent his helmet flying as the back of his head hit the turf.
“The heat got to him a little and it’s no coincidence that after he threw that (interception) he went down with the cramping,” Keefe said. “Your mind goes a little bit. Erik doesn’t call the wrong plays and he called the wrong play there.”
Meyer was acquired in a trade that sent defensive end Khreem Smith to Utah. Smith has left the Blaze to join the B.C. Lions of the CFL.
While the quarterback position seems to have stabilized, Keefe wasn’t as pleased with what he saw from Spokane’s receivers and pass rush.
Receivers had trouble getting separation when Arizona tightened its coverage in the second half. The Shock recently lost standouts Markee White and Greg Orton to the UFL. Raul Vijil is on injured reserve for two more weeks.
“We weren’t physical enough,” said Tennell, who had a solid game with 11 catches for 160 yards and three TDs. “The first half we were kind of pushing them around. They were doing that to us in the second half.”
Spokane didn’t register a sack for the first time since the Utah game in mid-April. Arizona QB Nick Davila torched Spokane for 291 yards and nine touchdowns.
“We have to get better,” Keefe said. “We’ll be making some transactions this week to help us out.”
S-R photojournalist Colin Mulvany covered the Empire's home game against the Fever. Check out this photo gallery of game photos.
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