Ron James was searching for a way to revisit last year’s success, so the Utah Blaze coach went to the tape.
Last season’s tape.
The Blaze (1-2) enter Week 5’s matchup against the Chicago Rush facing a virtually must-win game and trying to avoid a three-game home losing streak Saturday evening at EnergySolutions Arena. He said he saw a different team on tape than one that has struggled this year.
“We’re not playing with the same tempo and urgency on the offensive end we were all of last season,” said James.
Utah has given up 154 points in its last two outings, in Week 2 against Arizona and Week 3 against Tampa Bay. There have been too many turnovers and too many penalties during Utah’s two-game skid to overcome. And James knows that.
He attributes the difficulties to a group of players still meshing and getting to know one another, particularly on the offensive end of the ball, where quarterback Tommy Grady continues getting used to a nearly brand-new wide receiver corps.
“We’ve had a really good week of practice and I really feel like the week has come together,” James said. “Chemistry is such a tough thing to put your finger on.”
The Blaze will have to discover a new blend of chemistry against the Rush (2-2), who are led by former Utah backup quarterback Carson Coffman. But James feels like the bye week in Week 4 served the team well and gave the players an opportunity to understand the magnitude of this game.
“We’ve got to play smarter,” he said.
Chicago Rush at Utah Blaze
O At EnergySolutions Arena
Kickoff • Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • CBS Sports Network
Radio • 97.5 FM
Records • Chicago 2-2; Utah 1-2
Last meeting • Utah 68, Chicago 28 (June 9, 2012)
About the Rush • Chicago’s secondary has the second-best pass defense in the AFL, surrendering just 221 yards per outing. … Receiver Reggie Gray has 378 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns. … The Rush have four former Blaze players on the roster: Carson Coffman, Jared Jenkins, Jacob Hardwick and Kelvin Morris.
About the Blaze • Utah is giving up 62 points per game. … Rookie wideout Mario Urrutia has 338 yards and nine touchdowns on 21 receptions in three games this year.