WEST VALLEY CITY -- The greatest improvement for any football team is supposed to be from opening night until week two. Count the Utah Blaze among those who believe that.
After an opening night that bordered on disaster, Utah tries to rebound tonight against the Alabama Vipers at 7 p.m. in the E Center.
While Alabama (1-1) was beating Jacksonville 63-49, Utah went the 30 minutes of its rebirth without an offensive touch as Spokane rang up a 68-34 drubbing.
"There were a lot of nerves. Everyone was real excited," Utah Blaze coach Ernesto Purnsley said of the team's first-game performance. "The biggest thing for us is to get our quarterback into a rhythm."
Purnsley will go with Brett Elliott, who managed a pair of second-half touchdown passes and a solid 10-of-17 for 122 yards after Michael Affleck couldn't manufacture an offensive touchdown during his 30-minute shift.
"Brett is going to be the starter, and Michael will be the backup," Purnsley said. "I have confidence in Brett as our starting quarterback to lead our offense, but no matter which guy is in the game, we believe we will be productive offensively."
Veteran wide receiver Aaron Boone benefited from Elliott's presence and had eight catches for 90 yards and two second-half touchdowns in the match-up against the Shock. WR Wendall Williams added four catches for 54 yards to add to the Blaze's passing attack.
The highlight for the Blaze was Brandon Hampton, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and put the Blaze in scoring position two other times before Spokane wised up and started kicking the ball out of bounds.
Alabama is one of the teams that competed in af2 last season.
Wide receivers Michael Johnson and CJ Johnson have 361 and 328 all-purpose yards respectively, while fullback Dan Alexander has recorded an AFL-high 57 rushing yards and nine touchdowns in two contests.
All tickets are $10 as part of the team's "Pack the House" night.