Arena football: Blaze searching for launching point
After loss to rival, Utah searching for a launching point.
Published: May 17, 2013 10:41AM
Updated: December 7, 2013 11:32PM
Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune (right) Blaze player Mike Alston celebrates stopping the Storm on fourth down as (left) Storm player Alfred McCullough walks off the field during the first quarter of a game at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on April 6, 2013.

The devil is in the details, and now seven weeks into the 2013 season, the Utah Blaze are learning that the hard way. Despite winning two games in a row after a 1-3 start, the Blaze squandered a great start in Arizona last weekend, losing to their rivals and dropping to 3-4.

“The pattern is systematic of not taking care of the details, and we’ve been harping on accountability and critiquing what we need to do,” said Utah coach Ron James.

After a banner year in 2012 in which they were one minute away from an Arena Bowl appearance, the Blaze are searching for a launching point.

Enter the Iowa Barnstormers. The Blaze host the nonconference opponents from the Midwest on Saturday at 7 p.m. at EnergySolutions Arena before embarking on a three-game road trip.

But the Barnstormers, at 4-4, aren’t going to make it easy. In fact, quarterback J.J. Raterink has thrown 40 touchdowns this year to just four interceptions. The Blaze will also see a familiar face in former Utah defensive end and locker room leader Mike Lewis, who will have his sights on quarterback Tommy Grady.

“We just have to show patience and take what they give us and we can’t put the ball in precarious situations,” James said. “It’s one thing we’ve been honing in on this week — we’re not trying to force anything.”

Barnstormers at Blaze

O At EnergySolutions Arena

Kickoff • Saturday, 7 p.m.

TV • KJZZ. Radio • 97.5 FM

Records • Iowa 4-4; Utah 3-4

Last meeting • Utah 63, Iowa 62 (April 20, 2012)

About the Barnstormers • Quarterback J.J. Raterink has thrown for 40 touchdowns and just four interceptions in eight games this year. … The Barnstormers defense is second in the AFL in interceptions with 15. … Defensive back Ter’Ran Barton leads that group with five interceptions. … The Iowa defense ranks second in the league in red-zone efficiency, allowing touchdowns on 75 percent of possessions in the area.

About the Blaze • Quarterback Tommy Grady ranks second in the AFL in total offensive yards with 2,016. … Rookie wideout Mario Urrutia had 173 yards receiving and three touchdowns in last week’s loss at Arizona. … The Utah defense has had 17 takeaways in the last three outings.