Green Bay, WI
—The Green Bay Bliz
zard won 12 games just a year ago, in large part due to the play of their defensive unit as a whole. The Blizzard finished first in the IFL on defense last season in yards allowed, giving up just over 206 yards per game and finished second in the IFL giving up just over 40 points per game all en route to an 11-3 regular season record.
In the regular season opener, however, Green Bay surrendered 64 points and 171 rushing yards against Sioux Falls. Storm QB Martevious Young accounted for 101 of those yards on just 18 carries.
The Blizzard have worked vigorously the past few weeks at practice to improve on both sides of the ball. Head Coach Robert Fuller has seen much improvement and has an optimistic approach to Saturday’s game against Chicago.
“We’ve felt like we have brought in a couple of guys that are really going to help us make a difference,” said Fuller, referring to the defense.
“I think across the board we have a better understanding of our responsibilities,” he added. “It just takes time and a lot of practice. Through repetitions they are going to get more comfortable with the game and scheme and their responsibilities along with different types of things that different offenses are going to do against them.”
Green Bay has added DE K.J. McCrae and LB Wendell Brown to the roster, and both have made a lasting impression with the staff after just two days of practice. McCrae will be trying to help anchor the defensive line after playing college football at Portland State, while Wendell Brown was a standout linebacker for the former IFL team, Bloomington Edge. Both players look to make an immediate impact on the field Saturday against the Slaughter.
Coach Fuller believes there is one clear part of their game the team needs to improve on in order to be successful. “I think for us, the biggest thing is just cutting back on the mental errors and rookie mistakes. Avoiding mistakes and being in a position to make plays when the opportunities present themselves, that’s the biggest thing.”
The Blizzard are very young team, and it showed at times against the Storm. They struggled throughout the course of the game to get any kind of established run game going, but Coach Fuller believes it is only a matter of time before things start clicking.
“The running game started off a little slow last year as well. This year with three rookie offensive linemen and two rookie backs there is definitely a learning curve, but I’m not worried about that,” said Fuller. “With this year’s crew of wide receivers and our experience at quarterback, we’re not really looking to have a 1,000 yard rusher this season.”
Ryan Balentine leads a highly talented and athletic receiving core after hauling in seven catches for 97 yards and one touchdown from QB Donovan Porterie in the season opener. Green Bay looks to continue this success through the air, improve the run game more and more every game, and eliminate costly mistakes on defense as they travel to Chicago this Saturday at 6:05 pm to take on the 0-2 Slaughter.