Week 3 Game Preview - Empire at Soul
Cruising to another victory, the Empire settled some unfinished business against the 2018 champs, the Washington Valor, last Saturday night at the Times Union Center. Starting the team's sophomore season out with a 2-0 record, Albany takes to the road for the team's first away game of the year to face off against the League's only other 2-0 team, the Philadelphia Soul. Kickoff will be at 7:00 p.m. in the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, May 11 and broadcast live on MY4 Albany, ESPN 3, and Alt 105.7 FM.
The first matchup to come into play is Albany's defense against the Soul running game. Arena football might be a pass-heavy sport, but no team runs the ball more than the Philadelphia Soul. So far on the season, Soul fullback, Adrian Ferns, leads the League with 10 rushing attempts, and also sits on top of the League with 24 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Just when everyone in the building is expecting a pass play, the Soul will mix it up and hand one off to Ferns who has the ability to bulldoze his way forward for key yardage. Especially down in the red zone, the Empire must be ready for Ferns to carry the ball with his eyes set on scoring.
The key to an Empire victory in this matchup is, well, to stop the run. Through two games, the Empire defense has absolutely dominated, giving up a League-low 46 points total. Particularly in the red zone, Albany has been very difficult to score against and have in forced multiple turnovers already this season in this area. That being said, the Empire have yet to face a running threat such as Ferns. Albany mac linebacker, Jeramie Richardson, is no stranger to Philadelphia's offensive game plan, having played with the Soul just last season. In fact, Richardson doubled as a fullback for the Soul in 2018 and led the League in rushing yards. Expect Richardson to play a lead role in stopping the run as he keys in on Ferns all night and plugs up any running lanes to limit the fullback for gaining and yards.
The next matchup to lookout for is between the Empire's stifling defense against the Soul's high-powered offense. That seems obvious, sure, but look at the numbers. Albany's defense has allowed a mere 46 points through the first two games. Considering we play arena football, that number is astounding and normally is cleared after just one game. This is in large part to the Empire defense's ability to get off the field. Between forcing turnovers or just not giving up ground, moving the sticks is a tall task against this defense. On the flip side, Philadelphia ranks second overall in total points scored, just two shy of the League lead. This team is experienced and knows how to put up points in a hurry. Albany must find a way to slow down the Soul and keep them from gaining momentum on offense.
The key to victory in this matchup is for Albany to devise a way to throw off Soul quarterback, Dan Raudabaugh. The most tenured quarterback in the League, Raudabaugh is in his tenth season in the AFL and has seen just about every possible formation you can throw at him. That experience allows him to keep his composure, go through his reads, and find his target under pressure. The QB is coming off of a five-touchdown performance on the road in a victory over Baltimore in Week Two. In a game that started out slow, Raudabaugh and the Soul offense eventually hit their stride, putting up 24 points in the second half to pull away from the Brigade. Albany needs to find a way to turn the ball over and get the Soul offense off the field. So far through two games, Albany has three interceptions and have forced two fumbles. If the defense can force the veteran quarterback to make a couple mistakes in this one, it will allow more opportunities for the Empire offense to rack up points and come out of Philadelphia victorious.
The final matchup and key to victory for the Empire is to slow down the Soul's top receiving targets. All returning from a season ago, receivers Darius Prince, Aaron Wascha, and Lonnie Outlaw, have been the go-to options for Raudabaugh early this season. Prince finds himself tied with Empire receiver, Malachi Jones, for the League lead in catches with 17. Both Prince and Wascha have been the Soul's top touchdown threats through the air this season, hauling in three touchdowns each. Wascha, who missed game one, scored all three of his touchdowns last week in a five catch, 92-yard season debut. Outlaw, though he has yet to find the end zone this season, is second on the team with eight catches and gives Raudabuagh a 6'6 target to look for inside of the red zone. If the speedy Empire backfield can slow down the Soul's top receiving options, it will force Raudabaugh to look elsewhere, which could in turn lead to turnovers in the Empire's favor.
Fans can secure season tickets for the Albany Empire by calling 518-533-2200, by going to TheAlbanyEmpire.com, or by stopping by the Empire office located in the Times Union Center. A limited number of great seats are still available! Want to bring your organization to a game, fundraise, or perform on the field? Group experiences are now on sale. Call 518-533-2200 for additional information.
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Arena Football League Stories from May 8, 2019
- Week 3 Game Preview - Empire at Soul - Albany Empire
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