PLAYOFF HOPES ON THE LINE SATURDAY NIGHT IN AUSTIN (OFFICIAL GAME PREVIEW)
(LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA- Thursday, June 9, 2016)
The Los Angeles Temptation (1-1) have never missed the playoffs in franchise history and are the only team to play in each of the six postseasons in league history. On Saturday night, in front of their home crowd, the Austin Acoustic (1-2) have a chance to nearly eliminate LA from the postseason with a win in their regular-season finale. Suffering a second loss this season would make it very difficult for LA to make the playoffs, where in the situation of loss Saturday, the Temptation’s best-case scenario would come down to a three-way tie with Austin, Dallas, and LA all finishing 2-2 and hoping that their point differential is best of the three.
In the event that Austin wins Saturday, finishing the season 2-2, their hope at a postseason appearance would be for Dallas to finish the season 1-3, because even if LA were to finish 2-2, Austin would hold the tie breaker with the head-to-head game, but Dallas would hold the tie breaker against Austin if they finish with a 2-2 record, because Dallas defeated Austin in Week-7. Ultimately it all boils down to Los Angeles having control of their own destiny as a 3-1 finish would likely secure a playoff spot, while Austin’s hope is to win then wait and see what happens with Dallas.
Los Angeles is the only team to lose a home game this season and they look to make Austin the second on that list this Saturday. With a team that is filled with pride and many veterans who are in search of another Legends Cup Title for the Los Angeles fans, expect the Temptation to bring the intensity to Cedar Park, Texas and give Austin another dose of Western Conference Football.
Watch LFL Football Night weekly on CW, MyNetwork TV or Regional Sports Networks (check local listings), also on the LFL’s official YouTube channel, www.YouTube.com Saturdays 9p/8c.
Las Vegas Betting Line
Los Angeles- 12 points | Over/Under 57 points
Los Angeles Temptation
Head-coach Tui Suiaunoa is currently navigating a quarterback controversy in LA. These situations can easily swallow a team and turn locker rooms into two separate sides. However, so far things appear to be working well in regards to team chemistry, after their big comeback win over Dallas. Jayne Caldwell is expected to start again this week and Kiara Patterson will be given the offense in the second-half.
It is clear that Patterson has played better than starting quarterback Jayne Caldwell so far this season, and if it weren’t for Patterson’s stellar second-half against the Desire, the Temptation could be sitting 0-2. Patterson is 7-of-9 passing for 102 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Caldwell is 8-of-21 passing for 85 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Both have been productive on the ground as Caldwell has rushed for two touchdowns and Patterson for one.
Sherri Awagah and Cynthia Schmidt have been on the receiving end of the top offensive plays this season, as Awagah has a total of 37 receiving yards with one touchdown, while Schmidt leads the team with four receptions for 86 yards with two touchdowns in their two games so far. The defense is led again by Hall-of-Fame linebacker Monique Gaxiola who has ten tackles for the silver and black.
Key for Los Angeles
The Temptation need to play their style of football, controlling the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively and getting pressure on the quarterback. If both quarterbacks are given time to make plays, the offense should have their way with the Austin defense which appears to have weak spots in nearly every area. It will be important for the offense to protect the ball and be sure not to beat themselves with turnovers or mental mistakes. If LA can come out playing with the intensity seen against Dallas in the second-half, it will be a long night for Austin in front of their home crowd.
Players to Watch
Austin has shown the first year struggles that many expected from a franchise that fields the most rookies of any of the eight teams this season. After rebounding from their Week-1 loss to Seattle, with a 42-21 win over New England, it appeared the first ‘Texas Bowl’ between Austin and Dallas would be a competitive treat for everyone. But due to a weak performance by Austin on both sides of the ball, the Acoustic suffered a forty-point blowout against their Texas rival with the final score of 46-6. With one final game remaining, Austin has a lot to prove to themselves and their fans on Saturday night as they look to finish 2-0 at home this season.
Quarterback Teshay Winfrey has all of the tools to become one of the top offensive threats in the league, but her team’s poor execution and mistakes have hindered Austin’s offensive success. Winfrey’s numbers signify the potential she has and with a big performance in this finale, she could be sitting right in the middle of the pack by the end of the regular season in all categories. She has completed 47% of her passes (34 of 72) for 290 yards, with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Winfrey has also proven to be a dual threat as she has scored three times on the ground this season. Given time and if the Acoustic running game performs, expect Winfrey to make some big plays against LA and their struggling secondary.
The defense has had a difficult time stopping running backs with size this season. Seattle’s Stevi Schnoor battered the Acoustic defense on the ground in their first game. Against New England, the Austin defense had a great performance holding slight and speedy running-back Astrid Cruz to an average of just 2.2 yards-per-carry, but against Dallas two weeks ago, the result was much like what was seen in their performance against Seattle, as the Desire offense averaged 6.1 yards-per-carry with a total of four touchdowns on the ground. The Acoustic had no answer for stopping the run against Dallas and unless someone steps up against LA, it will be another slaughter on the ground. Leading the team this season on defense is Selena Fudge with 22.5 tackles (20 Solo).
Key for Austin
Austin will need to play a much better game defensively to stand a chance against LA. If the defense continues to miss tackles and fail to bring down running backs on first contact, it will be a long game for the first year franchise. Most importantly for the defense is to play physical up front, putting pressure on the LA quarterbacks. Offensively, they key will be to attack the secondary, which is the weak spot on the LA defense. Providing Winfrey time to pass will be a challenge against the strong LA defensive front, but it will be necessary for any offensive success Saturday night.