The Jacksonville Sharks head back to the Veterans Memorial Arena this week as they take on the East Division’s Milwaukee Mustangs at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, July 6. The game will air live in front of a national audience as part of the Arena Football League’s “Net10 Arena Football Friday” series on NFL Network.
Jacksonville (7-8) enters Week 18 as the No. 4 seed in the American Conference, a full game behind the South Division-leading New Orleans VooDoo and a half-game behind the Georgia Force, who occupy the No. 3 spot. The Sharks’ biggest disadvantage in terms of the playoff race is that the team has lost the head-to-head tiebreaker against each of Georgia and New Orleans, and therefore would need a better record outright in order to pass either of those squads.
This week, the Shark offense will look for a repeat performance from wide receiver Jeron Harvey, who led the team with nine catches for 120 yards and a pair of touchdowns in last week’s game. It was Harvey’s most productive performance since returning from injured reserve in mid-June, as the receiver put together his first 100-yard game since Week 4.
As usual, Harvey will team up with dynamic playmaker Terrance Smith at wide receiver. Smith enters this week with a chance to build on his own records, as he has established new franchise marks in both kickoff return yards and all-purpose yards over the last two games. Smith has racked up at least 170 all purpose yards in each of the last three games.
Defensively, Robinson and LaRoche Jackson have helped turn the Shark secondary into a ball-hawking unit over the last few weeks. Jackson has four interceptions in Jacksonville’s last five games, while Robinson has hauled in three in the last two contests. Those picks have tended to come in bunches, as the two players have combined for three two-interception games this season.
At this point in the season, the Milwaukee Mustangs (5-10) need a whole lot of help to reach the postseason. While the team is still technically alive, they must win each of their last three games and hope that the Sharks, Gladiators and Tampa Bay Storm stumble mightily. Though the season has not gone the way that head coach Bob Landsee would have liked, there is silver lining to be found in the performance of the team’s offense.
This season, the Mustangs rank in the top half of the league in averaging 55.7 points per game. Though he is somewhat prone to interceptions, quarterback Gino Guidugli has fired 74 touchdown passes and completed nearly 63 percent of his passes this season. Guidugli is also the team’s most reliable goal-line runner, as he has accounted for 14 of Milwaukee’s 29 rushing touchdowns in 2012.
The Milwaukee defense has struggled this season, as their average of 60.5 points against per game ranks tied for last in the AFL. Though the Mustangs’ pass rush features a potent tandem in Dwayne Lefall (7.5 sacks) and Luis Vasquez (6.5), the team’s secondary has accounted for just 13 interceptions in 15 games this season.