Spokane Shock head coach Adam Shackleford has discovered that what you see isn’t always what you get.
“We watch film all week and we get to the game and nobody ever shows what they did on film,” Shackleford said. “They always seem to try to game-plan us differently. That’s out of respect to our receivers, who are very good. So it takes us a little while to adjust. Luckily, we have a defense that shuts down people.
“Teams are doing a lot of different things to our offense trying to stop our receivers. They’re playing a lot of soft zone, playing a lot of coverages that you usually don’t see until you get down in the red zone. It’s almost like a blanket coverage, trying to keep everything in front of them.”
To some degree, the maneuvers have been effective as Spokane has been held to its three lowest point totals in the last four games. The Shock (8-0), who remain No. 1 in the arenafootball2 rankings, have scored in the 40s in three of those games, but still won each by double digits.
Spokane has trailed after the first quarter in three of the last four games. For the season, Spokane has been outscored 83-82 in the first quarter but rules the second (140-87) and third (124-54) periods. The fourth quarter has gone to the Shock 114-97.
The soft zones often force Spokane to “dink and dunk,” Shackleford said. The Shock threw an inordinate number of quick passes to the sideline in last week’s 43-22 win over Central Valley.
“We’re not going to throw into coverage,” Shackleford said.
Quarterback Nick Davila’s left elbow is still swollen and sore from a bruising hit on the first play from scrimmage Saturday, but he’s practicing and doesn’t expect long-term problems. Davila puts a heating pad on his elbow for 10-15 minutes before practice and wears a sleeve to keep the hinge warm.
“It’s basically like a stinger you’d get in your shoulder, but I got it on my elbow,” said Davila, who missed most of the first half, but finished 13 of 19 for 127 yards. He passed for one touchdown and ran for two.
Davila said his hand went numb after the tackle and his pinky finger still feels “weird when I stretch it. It feels like I hurt it, but I didn’t.”
Hansen steps in
Backup quarterback Casey Hansen took his first significant snaps in relief of Davila. Hansen entered with Spokane trailing 9-0 and guided the team to 13 points on three possessions before Davila returned late in the second quarter.
“When Nick got hurt, we kept our composure and we got the lead going into the locker room,” Shackleford said. “I was thrilled with the way Casey played. We would have still won that game whether he played the full game or half the game, but the starter was ready to come back in.”
Hansen finished 6 of 13 for 70 yards and one score.
“It’s very hard to do, especially when you’re not getting a lot of live reps (in practice),” Davila said. “He did a great job.”
Gilliam on the mend
Defensive back Sergio Gilliam returned from a doctor’s appointment Wednesday morning and participated in the last 10 minutes of practice. After making 27 consecutive starts, Gilliam sat out Saturday’s game after receiving treatment for a cyst in his lower back.
“It was just really tender, like a knot or a bruise and real sensitive and it was so painful when I got hit there or bumped it against the wall,” Gilliam said. “I’m fine now, fresh legs, no more doctor’s appointments.”
Defensive back Aaron Williams sat out practice again with a swollen knee, but Shackleford is optimistic he’ll play Saturday against Tri-Cities. “He didn’t practice last week and played absolutely terrific” against Central Valley, Shackleford said. … Spokane held the Coyotes to 22 points, the fifth lowest in franchise history.
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