No. 16 Mark Grieb of the San Jose SaberCats rolls out and looks to pass against the Spokane Shock on March 11, 2011. Photo courtesy of the San Jose SaberCats, via Aric Crabb.
The San Jose SaberCats are 1-1 on the season and have lost eight-straight road games dating back to last season. Still, with Tanner Varner hopefully playing, they'll have a chance to eliminate road woes with a win over the Spokane Shock live on the NFL Network on Friday.
The San Jose SaberCats re-entered the fray of the 2011 season, a year after the return of Arena Football, and looked good doing it. However, with all of the other teams having what was essentially a head-start, the 'Cats struggled to get the defense up to par with the offense, and their No. 1 offense still led them to miss the playoffs for the first time in a very long time. Now the 2012 season is underway, and there's a lot to be excited about.
What's to be excited about? Well, the offense, led by quarterback Mark Grieb, looks like it could end up being better than before. If you're somewhat of a stranger to Arena Football, the league is essentially all offense, with regular scores of games getting into the 120+ for both teams combined. Running the ball is a rarity, while gun-slinging quarterbacks are the top of the chain. It just so happens that Grieb is one of the best of all time in that regard.
Still, the SaberCats are not without growing pains. The road was awfully rough for them in their first season back, and it's not doing them any favors now, as evidenced by a 60-59 heartbreaker of a loss at the hands of the Utah Blaze in their most recent outing, to fall to 1-1 on the season. They've since fallen to No. 3 in the Coaches' Poll, and will have to do better on the road if they're to return to glory.
The team has lost eight-straight road games dating back to last season, and next up they've got the Spokane Shock on the road. San Jose is hoping ot have the advantage with Tanner Varner back in action after being activated from the refused-to-report list. The SaberCats acquired Varner in a trade with Kansas City just a week ago. There's a few injuries here and there, but all-in-all, San Jose is taking a relatively healthy, rejuvenated team into Spokane, the 2010 ArenaBowl XXIII Champions.
Spokane, on the other hand, is dealing with some injuries, most notably to quarterback Eric Meyer, who is on injured reserve. They'll run with Adam Froman, who is just 28 of 40 for 270 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions on the season, and recent signee Luke Collis.
Most importantly, this game is set to be broadcast on the NFL Network at 5:00 p.m. pacific. San Jose didn't have any of their games broadcast on the NFL Network last season, as something of a late entry to the fray. Tune in and root for another Bay Area team, why don't you?