From the opening kick, the San Jose SaberCats dominated the Spokane Shock, in their first game since July of 2008. On the opening possession, quarterback Mark Grieb and receiver Rodney Wright hooked up twice, including a 25-yard touchdown reception to give the 'Cats a lead they would not relinquish. Then, when the Shock took the field to respond, Courtney Smith picked off Spokane quarterback Kyle Rowley and took it back for six more points. The domination became a trend throughout the duration of the game.
The Shock didn't look bad, but their offense never got an opportunity to get things going at the level they wanted. Rowley threw the ball 22 more times than Grieb did, going 30-for-47 with five touchdowns. Looks like a good number until you see that he also was picked off three times. Rowley was generally inaccurate, missing open receivers and generally looking shaken up throughout the game. He did have 364 yards to his credit, with Raul Vijil grabbing thirteen of his thirty receptions, 161 of his 364 yards, and one of his touchdowns, including a beautiful score in the second half where he split the defenders with subtle head movement to make them stumble and caught the 25-yard touchdown.
There were a few bad calls here and there, but it evened out. Spokane was called on a bad pass interference call, but San Jose had a touchdown called down at the one yard line. The caveat for the Shock was their inability to overcome such things when presented with the opportunity. They lacked execution, and at times, they lacked good coaching. The Shock looked like they were the ones who hadn't played Arena Football in two years.
Grieb was amazingly efficient, going 21-for-25 for 222 yards and six touchdowns. Nichiren Flowers had four touchdown receptions, while Chad Cook set a career high in rushing touchdowns with three. Courtney Smith made several big plays on special teams and had the aforementioned pick six on the opening drive, he's getting my gameball tonight as a difference maker. Late in the fourth, he barreled through a blocker to make a huge tackle at the legs of the Spokane return-man, who seemed to have daylight in front of him.
The SaberCats are in business, and next week play host to the Kansas City Command.