For the first time in 28 games the Spokane Shock will have a new starting quarterback.
Erik Meyer long ago put to rest any questions about his durability. He started the last 27 games, compiling a 20-7 record, but he suffered a broken collarbone against the L.A. Kiss last Sunday.
The Shock will turn to either Donovan Porterie or Dennis Havrilla at quarterback when Pittsburgh visits the Arena tonight. Both were signed Wednesday after Spokane conducted an exhaustive search for quarterbacks following Meyer’s injury.
The Arena Football League is quarterback driven and winning teams often score in the 60s or 70s. Spokane might have to adjust its formula but the end goal remains the same.
“We take pride in our defense anyway,” cornerback Bryant Nnabuife said. “Losing ‘E’ was big but we move on and the next (quarterback) has to step up. Our defense has to step up and be more stout.”
Head coach Andy Olson knows the playbook will have fewer pages, but he’s optimistic “one of these guys can come in and be able to throw the ball and work the ball downfield and we can do some of the things we’ve done all year.”
Olson’s primary concern is how the team responds to adversity.
“What I’m worried about is the wide receivers getting down on the quarterback when he misses some throws,” Olson said. “It’s going to happen. In three days you can’t build timing with four different receivers. If the team sticks together, I think we’ll be just fine in the end.”
Pittsburgh (4-3) and Spokane (5-2) have played well on both sides of the ball. The Power ranks fifth in scoring offense (55.6) and fourth in scoring defense (46.6). Spokane is second in scoring (59.1) and third in points allowed (43.7).
Pittsburgh leads the AFL in turnover margin at plus-11, followed by Spokane at plus-9. Former Shock DB Virgil Gray has six interceptions. Arvell Nelson, Meyer’s backup last season, starts at jack LB and has 27 tackles, three fumble recoveries and one interception.
“We’re going to have to take our chances with throwing it up and relying on (receivers) to make plays,” Olson said.