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Spokane Empire

Shock, SaberCats line up again

Fri., Aug. 1, 2014, 9:02 p.m.

Arena football is all about the quarterback, which means tonight’s (Saturday) Spokane-San Jose playoff game figures to be all about the lines.

The top two pass-rushing teams in the Arena Football League collide at SAP Center but San Jose has had the better of it in three head-to-head meetings in the regular season.

The third-seeded Shock (11-7) have yielded 16 sacks to the SaberCats (13-5) while registering only two. No. 2 San Jose won two of the three games, losing 73-62 to Spokane despite sacking Erik Meyer six times.

“I think (the offensive line) is just motivated,” Shock coach Andy Olson said. “They’re tired of people talking about how bad they are and they’re tired of people talking about how bad they are against San Jose.”

Meyer played just one quarter – entering in the fourth period with Spokane trailing 44-24 – in two losses to the SaberCats.

“We feel like we’re unbeatable with him out there,” Olson said.

That’s been the case since Meyer returned from a broken collarbone to pilot Spokane to five straight wins to close the regular season. Meyer, 3-0 against San Jose in his career, missed six starts.

San Jose has been without quarterback Russ Michna since he suffered a broken collarbone against Arizona on May 31. Rookie Nathan Stanley has played well in Michna’s absence, leading the SaberCats to a 6-1 record.

“It’s a physical game and it’s won in the trenches,” Spokane defensive lineman Terrance Taylor said. “We definitely want to get more sacks, more pressure. As long as we’re hitting him and getting pressure … it makes it easier for our DBs to cover.”

Michna was activated from injured reserve earlier this week, but it wasn’t known if he’ll start.

“I really don’t care whether they play him or not,” Olson said. “I think it’d be tough to have no chemistry and no timing and he hasn’t thrown a ball in a long time, but if they believe he gives them a better chance we’ll be ready either way.”

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