Sunday, July 1, 2012

Teams Ready to Answer Questions in Ultimate Bowl II

Midway through the 2012 season visions of two unbeaten teams meeting for the Ultimate Bowl II championship were dancing in the minds of fans across the footprint.
However, Cincinnati stumbled twice and needed a late Marion victory to secure the top seed in the North playoffs. Despite the hiccup, Monday's Cincinnati/Florida game is the meeting that people have pined for the most. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Germain Arena.
Both teams are entering the Ultimate Bowl II, sponsored by Trophy Awards, with questions. The health of starting quarterback Tyler Sheehan is at the top of the list for the Commandos. The honorable mention North selection missed the North title game with an ankle injury.
"He is good," said Cincinnati head coach Billy Back. "His ankle getting better, he is able to take drops. He was 85 percent last week and we wanted to make sure he was healthy for this game."
If Florida Tarpons head coach Michael Taylor had a preference, he would prefer the less mobile Sheehan returned to action.
"It's easier to prepare for Sheehan," said Taylor. "Its different assignments when playing against a running quarterback. Our defense would be more basic football 101 to make him throw to ball to beat you. (Mincy) is someone we have to account for."
Sheehan threw for 2,537 yards on 185-of-353 passing with 39 touchdowns and 18 interceptions to lead Cincinnati to an 8-2 regular season. In his only extended action at quarterback, Mincy accounted for eight touchdowns in leading Cincinnati to the 62-40 victory over Erie in the North championship game.
Whoever takes the snaps for the Commandos will have to account for South Defensive Player of the Year, Terrance Jones. Jones leads the South with 11 interceptions and was second on the team with 41 tackles. Linebacker Harriel Moore led the Tarpons with 44 tackles, 14.5 for loss and eight sacks.
For the Tarpons, who have only trailed three times this season, their biggest question mark is how they will react to being down by more than one possession. The team ran through its competition and trailed just once after they had possession. Two of three times they trailed, the opposing team scored before Florida gained possession.
"That is the unknown because we haven't been in that position," said Taylor. "If Cincinnati jumps up 21 points, how will the guys fight back? I would like to think we have veteran guys and I feel pretty confident we will handle it. That is the reason we brought in a Chris Wallace."
Harassing Wallace and forcing the signal caller into mistakes should be one of the primary focuses for the Commandos. He has been sacked just 10 times this season and thrown just five interceptions. The Tarpons as a team, lead the league in turnover margin at a whopping plus-40. They have forced 50 turnovers on the season, while committing just 10.
Cincinnati's strength is arguably along the defensive line where North Defensive Player of the Year James Spikes leads a quintet of monsters in the trenches. Spikes, who finished the season with 12 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss, is just a part of a rotation that gave opposing offenses fits. He is joined up front by James Frazier (10 sacks), Terrill Byrd (six sacks), Thomas Claggett (2.5 sacks) and D'arrell Brown (one sack).
If Wallace does have time to throw, the duo of Donald Fusilier and Carlos Singleton could wreak havoc on the Commandos secondary.
"Carlos is a matchup nightmare, but I feel EJ Underwood will provide a good matchup to watch," said Back. "Donald is 6-3 with speed, runs well and catches well. It will come down to playing the ball in the air and making plays; our route recognition and how physical we can be."
While Underwood will spend a lot of time on Singleton, safety Corry Stewart's presence could be felt as well. His 14 picks led the UIFL and his penchant for making key plays can't be lost.

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