QB Kurt Rocco, VooDoo ready to face Tampa Bay

Advocate file photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- New Orleans VooDoo coach Pat O'Hara talks to quarterback Kurt Rocco during a 2013 game against the Orlando Predators. The VooDoo host Cleveland in Saturday's home opener.
Advocate file photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- New Orleans VooDoo coach Pat O'Hara talks to quarterback Kurt Rocco during a 2013 game against the Orlando Predators. The VooDoo host Cleveland in Saturday's home opener.

Quarterback Kurt Rocco is looking forward to playing the Tampa Bay Storm the second time around this season.

Rocco missed the VooDoo’s 63-32 loss at the Storm on May 4 with a knee injury. The defeat fell in the middle of an eight-game losing streak.

With Rocco back in the lineup, the VooDoo ended the winless streak two weeks ago with a 69-40 victory against the Cleveland Gladiators before falling 65-56 last weekend to Philadelphia.

Now, Saturday’s game against the Storm (7-5) at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome offers Rocco a chance to make amends for his time off the field. If he’s lucky, he’ll also help the VooDoo (2-9) jump-start an improbable late-season run for the fourth playoff spot in the American Conference.

“We’re due and desperate for a win,” said Rocco, who in eight games has passed for 1,835 yards and 37 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. Perhaps his best statistic: He was interception-free in the past two games, something he hadn’t accomplished this season before the facing Cleveland and Philadelphia.

“The confidence we’ve gained in recent weeks has helped us out offensively, from the receivers to the entire offensive line,” Rocco said. “It’s taken us more time than we thought to get our timing down, but it’s there now, and we want to take advantage of it.”

Rocco’s favorite target, receiver Donovan Morgan, also missed the loss at Tampa Bay. Still, after missing three games this season, Morgan leads VooDoo receivers in all categories. He can caught 60 passes for 952 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Rocco has thrown for seven TDs in three of his last four games. During this span, Morgan has tallied four games of more than 100 receiving yards while scoring 14 times.

While coach Pat O’Hara’s offense has improved, its scoring average (42.8) still ranks 12th in the Arena Football League. Tampa Bay is fourth (57.2).

Tampa Bay is expected to try to keep Morgan out of the game, utilizing players like defensive back Chris Smith. He’s tied for fourth in the AFL with seven interceptions while also leading the Storm defense with 52 tackles.

The VooDoo defense can expect to be tested, as well. Tampa Bay quarterback Adrian McPherson leads the league in rushing (400 yards, 29 TDs) and is fourth in passing (3,009 yards, 58 TDs).