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Spokane Empire

Shock host San Jose, look to regain standing in AFL

Breaking in a new quarterback, quick turnaround after a road game.

Spokane has been here before and its hoping for a better result.

Spokane entertains Pacific Division rival San Jose tonight, five days after a blowout loss in Arizona. Earlier this month, the Shock routed L.A. but lost quarterback Erik Meyer to injury in the process. They returned home five days later with Donovan Porterie at quarterback and lost to Pittsburgh.

Brian “Zeb” Zbydnieski, acquired in a trade earlier this week, is expected to make his first start for the Shock after serving as a backup in 2006 and 2010. Zbydniewski, like Porterie before him, will only have a few practices under his belt but he does have nine years of arena experience to draw upon.

Zbydniewski acknowledged he’s being “thrown into the fire, but I understand the game and I’m looking for a big outcome.”

Spokane (5-4) has dropped out of first place with two straight losses. San Jose (6-3) has won four straight. The Shock handled San Jose 73-62 in April with Meyer at quarterback and a defense that intercepted Russ Michna three times.

Michna has only tossed six picks all season. He has 39 touchdown passes and a 115.9 passer rating, third in the Arena Football League.

San Jose, which has defeated 2-7 Portland three times, held its last four opponents to 35 points or less. The SaberCats rank second in the league at 41.2 points allowed per game.

The Shock averaged 39.5 points, including two defensive touchdowns and another on special teams, and five turnovers in their last two games.

“In my experience in Pittsburgh, we had like 16 quarterbacks in three years,” receiver Mike Washington said. “I understand the rollercoaster but me being a vet and (Zbydniewski) having some knowledge of the game, it helps out. It’s just a matter of getting on the same page and go make it work.”

Head coach Andy Olson expects Zbydniewski to be a bit rusty, but he hopes he can limit turnovers, manage the game and sustain drives.

After tonight, only two of Spokane’s remaining eight games are against teams with winning records (San Jose and Arizona). The combined record of the other five opponents – Spokane faces Portland twice – is 11-34.

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