PORTLAND – The Portland Thunder (2-4, 1-1 in Pacific) return to the Moda Center for the first time in nearly one month, to take on the winless LA KISS (0-7, 0-3 in West) on Saturday, May 16th. Kickoff is set for 7:00pm. Fans can listen on 750AM THE GAME/102.9FM starting at 6:30pm, and watch live on CSNNW, ESPN 3, or the WatchESPN.com app.
Due for some home cooking, the Thunder look to this weekend’s match-up against their expansion rival to shake their current three game losing streak. The Thunder played each of their last three games on the road, prior to last week’s bye. Losses to 5-2 Arizona, 7-0 San Jose, and 7-0 Philadelphia cannot be categorized as failures, but in head coach Mike Hohensee’s eyes, Portland should have shown better.
“We’ve gone through the rough part of our schedule,” stated Hohensee, following the loss in Philadelphia on May 2nd. “We have to come back with a sense of urgency, understanding that everyone is accountable for these performances. Our guys need to find out whether or not they will be the reason we turn this streak around.”
Part of that turnaround will be a change at the quarterback position, with former Oregon Duck Darron Thomas slated to make his first start of the 2015 season. “It’s time to give him an opportunity to see what he can do,” Hohensee explained. “He’s worked for this. I think he’s ready for it. And I think the team will be behind it.” Thomas took his first snaps of the year late in the fourth quarter of the Week 5 loss in San Jose, completing four of seven attempts for 38 yards and two scores.
Thomas hit WR Perez Ashford for three of those four completions against San Jose, and has developed a great relationship with the former NIU Husky in practice. Ashford has done well in his expanded role over the last two weeks, catching 14 passes for 129 yards and three scores filling in due to the injury to Portland’s leading receiver Jamar Howard. Howard was placed on injured reserve last week following leg injury in sustained against the SaberCats.
The LA KISS, still searching for their first win in 2015, are quite familiar with quarterback changes of late. Former Spokane Shock man Matt Bassuener had taken the helm in Anaheim due to the injury to KISS starter Adrian McPherson, though it is unlikely he will appear against the Thunder this week after picking up a hand injury in the second half of LA’s loss to Spokane last Friday. Los Angeles has rotated four different passers behind center through the first seven weeks of the season, and gave time to current backup Joe Clancy in each of their last two games, despite Bassuener’s apparent effectiveness. Bassuener had completed 45 of his 69 passes in three appearances thus far for LA, with a QB Rating of 115.07. Clancy was four of ten, for 60 yards, and a score playing in relief of Bassuener.
Getting to whomever is taking the snaps seems to be the solution to stopping the KISS offense, though. LA ranks last in the AFL in both Turnover Margin (-9) and Sacks Against, giving up an average of 3.15 per game (22 for 93 yards lost). Look for Defensive Coordinator Ernesto Purnsley to let the Thunder’s front four dictate the defensive game plan.
– Recently signed OL Sam Longo has been moved from RTR (Refused to Report) to the active roster, and will be assigned the #73 after passing his entrance physical Monday morning.
– 2014 All-Arena DB Varmah Sonie has been waived by the Cleveland Browns (NFL). Sonie was placed on Other League Exemption (OLEX) on February 18, 2015. His return to the Thunder has not yet been determined.
– LB Brandon Tett and DB Allen Chapman have been placed on Inactive Reserve as they recover from short term injuries. Tett is suffering from a groin strain, while Chapman is still dealing with a toe injury sustained against Arizona.
– DL/LB Dexter Davis rejoined the Thunder on Monday. The 6’2”, 230-pounder out of Friends University (KS) was placed on reassignment last week, having spent the first six weeks of the season on IR with the Thunder.