Several things went wrong for the Salt Lake Stallions in their loss to the Arizona Hotshots to open the inaugural season of the Alliance of American Football. They couldn’t run the football effectively. They dropped seven passes. They committed three turnovers. Their defense left something to be desired.
And to top it off, they lost their starting quarterback, Josh Woodrum, to a hamstring injury he suffered in the first half. He did not return in the second half, and the team felt his absence on the field.
“I can’t lie and say that it didn’t affect me,” Stallions offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said this week in a conference call with reporters.
Woodrum’s injury brought backup QB Matt Linehan on the field. And while the team feels he is more than capable at that position, neither he nor Austin Allen has played as many snaps as Woodrum. Because of that, Salt Lake’s offensive dynamics shifted a bit in the second half.
Linehan will likely be the starter when the Stallions head south to play the Birmingham Iron on Saturday afternoon.
“It did change a little bit because they don’t get the number of reps that Josh got during the week,” Lappano said. “In pro football, you just can’t do that. The guy that’s playing has to get the majority of the reps.”
SALT LAKE STALLIONS AT BIRMINGHAM IRON
When • Saturday, Noon MST
TV • TNT
Stallions head coach Dennis Erickson said earlier in the week that the team was operating under the assumption that Woodrum would not play Saturday against Birmingham. Woodrum was limited in practice on Friday and is considered questionable to play Saturday. Friday was the first day this week he participated in practice in any capacity.
But missing Woodrum could be the least of Salt Lake’s problems. Running the ball is the aspect of their game on which the . Stallions place the most importance, and they totaled only 88 yards on run plays against Arizona.
It was the lack of rushing offense that led Salt Lake to pass more in its first game. They did better — 159 passing yards — but both Woodrum and Linehan threw an interception.
“We have to be able to run the football to help some quarterback play out here, no matter who it’s gonna be,” Lappano said. “Running the football is gonna open up everything else we do.”
The Stallions are also looking to start better against Birmingham than they did against Arizona. Running back Branden Oliver said the team came out “flat” against the Hotshots, adding that it will be imperative for it to find energy and keep it through an entire game.
In addition, Lappano thought the Stallions lacked something else against Arizona.
“We were not physical in that game,” Lappano said. “I’m not sure why we weren’t. … We didn’t play fast and physical.”
While the Stallions had a less-than-desirable showing last weekend, Erickson said all their errors are correctible. They’ll have to correct them without Woodrum, but Lineham and Allen have been in the fold much more than in previous weeks to help with that, Lappano said.
When it comes down to it, Erickson believes the Stallions team that took the field against the Hotshots is not the one he sees day in and day out in practice. He’ll be looking to see a better performance on Saturday.
“I’d like to think we’re better than how we played,” Erickson said.