These teams epitomize the old maxim: The best kind of ability is availability. Unfortunately, they’re displaying its validity through their struggles with consistency due to injuries.
The Thunder (2-4) are coming off a bye, which fortuitously arrived after a brutal three-game stretch where they played consecutive road games against the three-time defending champions and both of the league’s currently undefeated teams. With a week of rest, they’ll look to topple the team who they beat to start the season, the Los Angeles KISS (0-7). After playing the Thunder close in Week 1, the KISS have been punching bags for the rest of the league, their smallest margin of defeat being 13 points.
The KISS have had problems with their offensive line all season, and it’s manifested itself in the wounds their quarterbacks have sustained. It seems like they’ll be using old friend and Thunder “house QB” Danny Southwick at quarterback after losing their third quarterback, Matt Bassuener, against the Shock last week in a game where the offensive line seemed to have slightly improved over the rest of the season’s performance.
The Thunder, meanwhile, seem likely to start Darron Thomas in this game after three consecutive unimpressive performances from starter Kyle Rowley. Thomas is 4/7 for 38 yards and two touchdowns this season in limited action. Head Coach Mike Hohensee likes what he’s seen from Thomas this offseason and throughout practices; we’ll see if it translates to in-game performance. The team and the league could certainly use a fresh quarterbacking face, especially given the rate the stars are going down with injuries this season.
Aside from quarterbacking, the main thing to watch this week will be line play. Have the KISS improved their line with several recent acquisitions? How much will missing Robert Hayes affect the Thunder? His presence in the first game allowed the Thunder to rotate their defensive linemen and keep guys fresh while still threatening QB Adrian McPherson regularly. Can the KISS generate any kind of heat on Darron Thomas? Quarterbacks with less experience tend to trust their instincts a little less and hesitate when they pass – will that allow the KISS rush to get home?
The first rematch of the season for the Thunder provides a convenient benchmark for both teams – have the teams improved enough with experience to make up for their injuries? We’ll see on Saturday.