It took a while for the Spokane Shock offense to go from zero to 60 on Saturday night.
The normally high-powered unit managed one touchdown, two turnovers and just seven points on four first-half possessions. They scored at will in the second half, racking up 55 points, but the Shock never caught Tampa Bay and suffered a 70-62 loss.
Spokane (5-1), which visits West Division rival Utah on Saturday, hopes to show that the first half was an anomaly compared to the first five games that saw the Shock average nearly 69 points and allow just 48.2.
“I think we got comfortable,” coach Andy Olson said. “Too many pictures going on before the game, too much distraction, too much talk about Spokane. I tried to keep that stuff away but it’s not easy. When you’re winning it comes to you. I think we got a little distracted and lost our focus the first quarter and a half.”
If the Shock hadn’t dropped two touchdown passes, there probably wouldn’t have been that much concern about the offense.
“We just weren’t ourselves in the first half,” said quarterback Erik Meyer, who threw his first two interceptions of the season, one that bounced off a receiver’s foot and another that ricocheted off a padded sideline wall.
“We came out in the second half and played really well,” Meyer stated. “We have to make sure we play four quarters instead of just the second half.”
The Shock made a lineup change, moving 6-foot-5 Ryan Cave to fullback and 6-2 Will Falakiseni to center, which might have made it tougher for the 6-2 Meyer to scan downfield. Tampa Bay generated consistent pressure on Meyer in the first half, including twice against Cave on a series that ended with Spokane stalling inside Tampa Bay’s 5-yard line.
“It ended up being a problem I think,” Olson said. “Meyer didn’t say too much about it but I could tell he wasn’t reading the field as fast and he was having trouble finding open receivers. That’s the window you throw through, over the fullback.
“When we moved those guys back (to their normal positions after the third series), it seemed to open things up for (Meyer) and he settled down.”
Olson thought Tampa Bay’s zone coverage was a factor in the first quarter.
“We got into a habit of throwing the ball deep so much in the first five games with so much success, with all that zone (Meyer) was reading the deep routes too long before coming to the check-down,” Olson said. “By the time we got to the check-down, it wasn’t there. I think we wanted to score so badly, but we need to remember to take what the defense gives us.”
Spokane’s defense had its roughest day of the season, giving up 10 touchdowns. The Shock made a stop in each half, but one was a fumble on a quarterback-center exchange.
“I think it opened up a lot of guys’ eyes in terms of what we need to do coming out and focusing from the start,” defensive back Terrance Sanders said.
Meyer, defensive lineman Terrance Taylor, linebacker Beau Bell and defensive back Paul Stephens were spectators at practice Tuesday. Meyer’s left knee was wrapped and he had a slight limp walking to the locker room.
“We have a lot of bumps and bruises,” Olson said, “but luckily none of them are serious.”
Olson thought Meyer tweaked his knee sliding on a scramble to avoid taking hits from two defenders.
“I’ll be ready to go for sure,” Meyer said.