The Utah Blaze face a bit of dÃ©jÃ vu this week.
For the second time this season, the Blaze will be looking to unseat No. 1 San Jose. Last time, all went well because Utah eked out a last-minute 60-59 victory at home.
But this week, the Blaze will go into the SaberCats' den, and they'll be targeted for revenge. With Utah ranked No. 2 in the Arena Football power poll, it won't be under the radar, either.
"We can't do the same game plan, because we're utilizing different people," coach Ron James says. "The rankings don't matter to us. It's a division game, and we know the importance of it."
This week's game between No. 1 and No. 2 should also be a marquee matchup because it arguably showcases the top two quarterbacks in the league. Blaze signal-caller Tommy Grady has made a case for himself during Utah's recent four-game winning streak, throwing 37 touchdowns against only two interceptions.
"He's as sharp as any quarterback I've seen in this league," James says. "Whereas last year he could stand back like a statue from time to time, now he's buying extra time in the pocket on critical plays."
The 6-foot-8 quarterback leads the AFL in touchdown passes with 62 this season Â nine more than any other in the league. But Grady trails San Jose quarterback Mark Grieb in passing offense and efficiency, and acknowledges that he has a lot of admiration for the AFL vet.
"He's been doing this a lot longer than I have," Grady says. "Mark's one of the best, and I learn a lot of stuff by watching him."
The Blaze have benefited from some key returns on offense: Receiver Alvance Robinson, fullback Ben Stallings and lineman Dan DeMaster are healthy and will start. But the team is still lacking depth in its secondary a huge concern against Grieb so the pass rush will have to pick up the slack.
"Grieb's a future Hall of Famer: He's got all the throws, and he's seen all the coverages," James says. "There's nothing we can do that's going to be different for him. The best we can do is make him uncomfortable back there."
Blaze at SaberCats
P Friday, 8:30 p.m.
Radio • 97.5 FM, 1280 AM
TV • KMYU
Live streaming at ustream.tv/user/aflblaze