SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Blaze (6-2) hits the road this week to battle the division-rival San Jose SaberCats on Friday, May 11th. The two teams previously squared off in Week 3 matchup, when Utah emerged with a 60-59 victory.
The Blaze extended its win streak to four games after crushing the Spokane Shock at home last Friday, 84-63. Meanwhile, the SaberCats knocked off the Arizona Rattlers for the second time this season, 77-70. Both teams hold identical records – each of which tie as the best mark in the AFL – and the victor will claim sole possession of first place in the Arena Football League’s highly competitive West Division. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 PM MT.
Utah’s offense has been lighting up the scoreboard the past four games, culminating in an 84-point performance against Spokane in which QB Tommy Grady tied an AFL single-game record with 11 touchdown passes. Grady remains the League leader in total offensive touchdowns (67) and passing touchdowns (61) by wide margins. His favorite receiving weapon continues to be WR Aaron Lesue, who logged five more touchdown receptions against the Shock to raise his AFL-best season total to 30.
The explosive Blaze offense will take on one of the best defensive units in football this week. The SaberCats have allowed just 52.1 points per game to rank fifth in the AFL. In addition, San Jose is the only team in the League that has posted more sacks than Utah with 23.0 on the season. Their biggest threat on defense has been DL Joe Sykes, who leads the AFL with 10.0 sacks.
“San Jose has one of the best defenses in the league,” said President & Head Coach Ron James. “Their pass rush can dominate a game and they are stocked with a talented, veteran rich group. Top to bottom, they are one of the most ferocious defenses in all of the AFL.”
The dynamic pass rushing ability of the Utah Blaze defensive line will once again be crucial in earning a victory. San Jose employs a 13-year AFL veteran under center in QB Mark Grieb, who has led a productive group. The SaberCats rank first or second in total offense (337.6 ypg), scoring offense (66.5 ppg) and passing offense (317.8 ypg). Disrupting Grieb’s timing and rhythm will go a long way in coming out on top.
“When you play against Mark Grieb and the San Jose offense, you know that you are seeing a future AFL Hall of Fame quarterback and an arsenal of talented wide receivers,” said James. “They are a virtual who's who of All-Arena performers from prior seasons and they know how to play the game. We must have a very strong defensive outing this week to keep pace with this team.”
The Utah Blaze vs. the San Jose SaberCats will air on KMYU (Dish/DirecTV channel 12, Comcast channel 22) beginning at 9:00 PM MT, with Mychal Clanton (play-by-play), Kevin White (color commentary) and Dave Fox (Sideline) calling all the action.
You can also view the game online through the Arena Football League’s exclusive partnership with Ustream, the leader in live and interactive video streaming. Visit www.UTBlaze.com/LIVE to stream the game live and at no cost! Game coverage can be heard in the Salt Lake City area on The Zone 1280 AM/97.5 FM, the radio home of the Utah Blaze.