SALT LAKE CITY -- The rematch is almost here.
The Utah Blaze and the Arizona Rattlers face off at EnergySolutions Arena Saturday in a rematch of their overtime thriller a couple of weeks ago in Arizona.
The Rattlers currently lead the West Ddivision and were ranked No. 2 in the AFL coaches poll; the Blaze were ranked No. 7.
In Week 7, the Blaze (5-5) pushed the Rattlers (9-2) to overtime on a touchdown pass as regulation time expired. In overtime, Utah fell victim to the Rattlers after a Kevin McCullough interception and a touchdown pass from QB Nick Davila to Rod Windsor.
Blaze coach Ron James feels his team is better prepared as they take on the division leaders.
"We feel that we should have won against them last time," he said. "This time we know what to expect and our guys will come firing."
In this week's rematch, the Blaze look to stop Davila and Windsor from delivering another game ending blow. Blaze DB Brandon Taylor will need to step up again as he did in the previous matchup. Taylor tallied 13.0 total tackles, forced and recovered a fumble and had an interception.
The Blaze will also need their offensive line to step up to contain Arizona DL Anttaj Hawthorne, who has already recorded 6.0 total sacks this season.
If the Utah line can keep Hawthorne out of the backfield, QB Tommy Grady will look to continue his hot start to the season. Grady is on pace to break the AFL's single season record for touchdown passes held by former Georgia Force QB Chris Greisen of 117, and is considered a front runner for the AFL MVP award.
After a heartbreaking 50-48 loss to Iowa last week, the Blaze made a couple of trades early in the week, grabbing DL Khreem Smith and OL/DL Antonio Narcisse from Spokane in exchange for OL/DL Raymond McNeil and QB Erik Meyer.
The Blaze also traded for DB Chris Royal from San Jose in exchange for DB Rod Mosley.
James feels the trades improve Utah's defensive line in a big way.