NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans VooDoo have lost cornerback Eddie Moten (ankle) heading into Saturday night’s game at the Tampa Bay Storm, the latest injury to the struggling Arena Football League franchise.
It’s proved to be a painful theme this season — from the secondary to quarterback, receiver to fullback — and one which coach pat O’Hara is trying to overcome. The VooDoo (1-4), winners of their season opener against Orlando Predators, enter Saturday’s game with four consecutive losses.
The 8 p.m. game will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.
The VooDoo will start Bill Stull, who signed last Thursday, at quarterback.
“I was real excited to have an opportunity to play again,” said Stull, who injured his left (non-throwing) shoulder last season as a member of the Pittsburgh Power. On Saturday, he entered the VooDoo’s 57-38 loss to the San Jose SaberCats late in the third quarter and finished with 97 passing yards and two touchdowns (one passing, one running). It proved to be enough to earn a start against Tampa Bay (4-2).
Stull will throw passes to receiving group missing New Orleans native Donovan Morgan (abductor strain). In the secondary, Moten’s loss was was preceded by injuries of cornerback Delvin Breaux (McDonogh 35), fullback Larry Beavers, defensive lineman Xavier Brown and others.
“We’ve trying to get back on a winning track, trying to find some cohesion and win some games,” O’Hara said. “I think you try to simplify things a little bit, don’t panic. Maintain what we do day in and day out in our preparation and maintain a positive attitude.”
Not that it’s been easy. Not that there’s been many positives.
While the VooDoo have played well on special teams with two kickoff returns scorers, and the defense collecting nine sacks (tied for fourth in the league), the offense has averaged just 39.2 points a game — 13th out of 14 teams in the AFL. By comparison, the Arizona Rattlers lead the league (71.7).
Also, the VooDoo secondary has failed to defend big plays. During last Saturday’s loss to San Jose, the defense surrendered three touchdown passes of 35 yards or longer to quarterback Russ Michna.
“We just have to be more consistent on defense,” said VooDoo defensive lineman Marlon Favorite. “Making a play here or there.”
Tampa Bay won’t make it easy.
The Storm average 60 points a game, led by quarterback Adrian McPherson passing for 1,548 yards (60.4 completion percentage) and 28 TDs with one interception. During last week’s 70-67 win against the Spokane Shock, McPherson threw seven TDs, giving the Shock its first loss of the season.
“We (now) know if we put our minds to it and focus in on every play, we know we can be one of the best teams in the AFL,” said Tampa Bay defensive back De’Audra Dix.
O’Hara hopes Dix is wrong.
“I’ve learned in this game that one win can really changed everything,” said O’Hara, a former ArenaBowl XVII-winning quarterback and coach with Orlando before arriving in New Orleans last season.
“We’re just going to try and fight, scratch and crawl and find a way to get that win.”
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