Andy Olson doesn’t sleep well after Spokane Shock victories. One can imagine how restless the head coach was Saturday night following Spokane’s last-minute meltdown against Orlando.
Quarterback Erik Meyer noted that aches and pains tend to stick around longer after a loss.
“Being up 21, we should definitely win the game,” Meyer said. “Both sides of the ball kind of fluttered a little when we had that lead. We have to step on the gas and keep it going.”
The Shock (5-3) kept the gas pedal slammed to the turf during practice Tuesday. There were numerous verbal exchanges and a noticeable increase in the competition level compared to previous weeks. Several new players were on hand, hoping to make the roster.
Those things tend to happen when a team is dealing with a three-game losing streak. The manner of defeat – blowing a 21-point lead against the Predators, unable to score on the final play from Utah’s 5-yard line and yielding 70 points to Tampa Bay – has added to Spokane’s frustration.
“We got back to the basics, that (training) camp attitude, a little competition, a little barking and biting at each other to see how everybody responds,” Olson said. “I told them it was going to be competitive. We need more looks like that. I think some of these practices have been a little soft.”
The coach’s objective?
“Everyone knows that no one is safe,” Olson said. “With changes being made, everybody feels a little bit uneasy about their position. When you have that fear, you always work harder.”
The players’ response?
“As you could see over the last couple games, the guys felt we weren’t playing with enough attitude,” offensive lineman Ryan Cave said. “You see everyone start chit-chattering. Everyone knows it’s family and we’re all out there together, but guys are going to get after it. We have to bring the pain train all day long.”
Olson wants his team to return to playing “angrier football.” The coach seemed most concerned with dropped passes (five), mental mistakes (numerous) and playing the full four quarters.
Spokane scored 55 points in the second half three weeks ago but couldn’t catch Tampa Bay. The Shock had 62 points in the first half versus Orlando but lost in the closing seconds for the second straight week.
Receivers spent 15 minutes catching passes from the Jugs machine. Penalties were enforced during team drills. Meyer, despite wearing a ‘hands off’ orange jersey, was jostled a bit in the pocket by the pass rush.
Olson wasn’t pleased with mental miscues, two coming with Spokane deep in Orlando territory in the third quarter. Spokane missed a blocking assignment and there was a botched play call in the huddle. Spokane didn’t score on the possession.
“We’re allowing receivers to run open down the middle of the field,” he said. “We broke more coverages last week than we have all season. That’s inexcusable in Week 8. It’s all communication, making sure everyone has the checks.”
Kamar Jorden has returned from his three-day tryout at Indianapolis Colts’ rookie minicamp and he’s expected to be with the Shock for Friday’s home game against New Orleans.
“I showed them I can still play the outdoor game and can play at the NFL level,” Jorden said. “I’m hoping for a phone call but as of now I’m focusing on the season here.”
Jorden is second on the team in receptions (45), yards (587) and touchdowns (15) behind Adron Tennell. He was one of five free-agent receivers in Indianapolis, catching passes from two free-agent quarterbacks.
“The (outdoor) routes are way longer and it feels like you’re running forever,” Jorden said. “I made sure before I left (Spokane) to get on the high school fields and run around and get the feeling again. When I got back there, it didn’t feel like I’ve lost a step.”
• Kicker Kenny Spencer will attend a tryout with the New England Patriots later this week and won’t be available Friday. Olson said Spokane is prepared when a player leaves for a tryout.