Rush Defense Up to Challenge
The defense for the Chicago Rush felt that they had an advantage going into last Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Soul. That advantage was current defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, Walt Housman.
With Coach Hous having spent ten years under current Philadelphia Soul head coach Mike Hohensee with other Arena Football League teams, the Rush defense felt that they were well prepared going into their game against the Soul. And with the high-energy and confident motivation provided by coach Hous and the rest of the Rush coaching staff, the defense was ready to perform.
“That was a big advantage,” said current Rush jack linebacker Kelvin Morris. “(Hous) is the best defensive coordinator in this league. Getting me and the whole defense prepared was already done in practice, so in my opinion, we already had the edge. “
Adding fuel to the already lit fire prior to this game was Soul wide receiver Donovan Morgan. On the Thursday prior to the game on the Philadelphia Soul website, Morgan claimed that he and his teammates were going to “destroy” the Rush defensive backs. It was obvious that the Rush defense took this statement and ran with it.
In their 62 – 28 victory over the Soul, the Rush kept Morgan out of the end zone and limited him to 115 yards on 9 catches, most after the game was already out of reach. Overall, the Soul receivers only amassed 223 yards and two scores.
“We took it as a challenge,” said Morris. “We did not find out until Thursday after practice. We had a great week of practice and that was just more fire to light up under us. Hey, look at the score.”
“I took it personally,” said defensive back Vic Hall. “I don’t know (Morgan) personally, but I took it personally and the DB’s took it personally as well, as well as (Morris). I feel that the whole defense stood behind us and we stepped up to the plate. We always talk about playing together as a team, so we went out there and executed the game plan with confidence. The results went our way.”
While it is only week 2 of the season, the Rush rank second in team defense giving up an average of 34.5 points per game. This effective performance by the defense early in the season is giving the Rush some early optimism and a positive outlook on the mental toughness of their team.
“I give these guys a lot of credit,” said head coach Bob McMillen. “They got prepared mentally and studied the game plan. That is the biggest thing, especially on a short turnaround like that. I give all those guys in the locker room all the credit in the world because they executed a perfect game plan. We are playing as a team and that is the one thing that I am the most proud of.”
After what he considered to be a subpar performance on offense, Rush quarterback Russ Michna feels more comfortable knowing that his defense is already at a quality level and can help to bail out the offense when they are not necessarily playing their best football.
“It’s only week two,” said Michna. “But I liked the way that we played today. These guys (the defense) were outstanding. All that we can do is prepare and that is the thing that excites me most about (this game). We had a short turnaround and a short week of practice. Everybody knew their role and just did their jobs and executed, especially on the other side of the ball. I think we’ve got the makings to be a real good team.”
The motto for this team to this point has been, “Just Get Better Every Week.” They know that they are a young team and a work in progress going into each game. They realize that the mental part of the game will be just as important as their being in great physical shape in order to perform on the field each week. With an improvement from the opening game in Milwaukee to the game on Friday night, this young Rush team is showing that it is listening to its coaches and has the mental make-up to endure the longer 18 game schedule.
“(Friday) was a great mental performance because we practiced hard and the coaches were in our heads every day getting our minds right for this game,” said defensive back Perry Kyles. “We take everything personal, regardless of who it is, no matter who comes in our house. Our goal is to destroy them. You can’t come into our house running your mouth. Actions speak louder than words and that’s what we did.”
After their solid performance against the Soul, the Rush will now have to contend with a crafty AFL veteran quarterback as Mark Grieb and the San Jose Sabercats come into the Allstate Arena on Friday night. It will be another solid challenge for this Rush defense.
Center Beau Elliot has been placed on IR and will be out for at least four weeks with a knee injury.
Proving that there is some tension between he and former Rush head coach Mike Hohensee, when asked if playing coach Ho was a motivating factor, McMillen replied; Who? I didn’t even know who was on the other sideline. I didn’t notice anybody.”