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Bye week breakdown

Tuesday April 9, 2013

 Utah Blaze Seek Internal Improvement during Time Off

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Blaze head into the bye week with a sour taste in their mouths following a 77-65 loss to the Tampa Bay Storm. The team has posted a 1-2 record through three games this season, one game off from the 2-1 record the franchise held at this point a year ago. With seven days to strategize on how to remedy the team’s misfortune, Head Coach Ron James wasted no time in identifying the issues.

“We’ve been a little more error-prone than what is customary for the Utah Blaze,” Coach James stated. “We’re still trying to find our way here early in the season and we’re combining a lot of new faces with the concepts that we’ve installed. It’s been a slower process at this point, but we’re looking forward to getting ourselves back on track in the weeks to come.”

For the offense, the rhythm and timing has taken longer to progress in part due to a slew of new weapons at the wide receiver position. While the coaching staff feels it has upgraded from a talent perspective, simple repetition can be an invaluable asset when developing the passing game.

Through three games in 2012, all three of Utah’s starting wide receivers were returners from the previous season. Quarterback Tommy Grady has thrown to an entirely new cast in 2013 with the exception of Aaron Lesué, who was inserted into the lineup for the first time last week after missing the first two contests with injury.

Despite significant changes in the receiving corps, Utah’s offense isn’t too far off from its pace of a year ago. The Blaze have actually scored more points through three games than they had at this point during the previous season (178 in 2013 compared to 177 in 2012). Grady has thrown 18 touchdowns, matching his total through three games in 2012. Of course, when all was said and done, Grady went on to shatter the passing touchdown record 25 times over, throwing for 142 scores to topple the previous mark of 117.

The disparity lays in a pair of factors that play a critical role in determining the outcome of any game.

“The two biggest areas we have to eliminate are penalties and turnovers and to be able to do both of those, you’ve got to be a little more disciplined. We’ve got to put ourselves in better positions, play smarter football and hone in on situations a lot better. We’ll work through those things in the weeks to come and make ourselves a stronger team.”

Coming out of the bye week as a stronger unit is not an unprecedented trend for the Utah Blaze. Utah headed into a bye week after suffering a tumultuous 72-57 loss at home to the New Orleans VooDoo in Week 4 of the 2012 season. The Blaze looked as sloppy as ever in that contest, committing an astounding seven turnovers. Following the week off, Utah put the loss in its rearview and rattled off four straight victories.

“From a player’s perspective, you’ve got an opportunity to get these guys healthy. We’ve been banged up a little bit. That isn’t any excuse for where we are at this point in the season but it does give them a chance to recharge both physically and mentally.”

“From a coaching perspective, it gives us more time to prepare internally to make sure we’re at the best level we can be for the next football game. If we can get ourselves ready and make sure that the errors that we’ve had in the past are behind us, then we should be setting ourselves up for the weeks to come.”

For the Blaze, the opportunity for redemption will come on April 20th in Salt Lake City when Utah takes on the Chicago Rush in a nationally televised matchup airing on CBS Sports Network.

“Anytime you perform on a national stage, you’re going to get the best out of your folks. Players tend to play up for those types of games. We know we’re going to get Chicago’s best game and we also understand our players are going to be playing for those same reasons.”

“It’s more important for us to take care of the internal aspects of the football game; performing better on the offensive side and not turning the ball over. Defensively, creating turnovers and playing more sound in the red zone. I really feel like the nationally televised game is a good opportunity for our players to perform at their best for the national audience and to give ourselves an opportunity to move forward into the remainder of the season.”

ABOUT THE BLAZE
The Utah Blaze host the Chicago Rush in a nationally televised matchup on Saturday, April 20th at Energy Solutions Arena. Get YOUR tickets today by calling 1-888-99BLAZE or online at UTBlaze.com! Interact with us all week leading up to the game on Twitter (@UTBLAZE) or Instagram (@UtahBlaze). Follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/utahblaze) or head to UTBlaze.com for all the latest news!