One week after winning their first Arena Football League game, the Washington Commandos are in a familiar spot.
Once again, they will be facing the Denver Dynamite. Once again, they'll be facing an often-blitzing pressure defense. And once again, they expect the key in opening up their passing -- and the game -- to lie in warding off that defense.
But there's plenty that may be scrambled. The game will be played before an expected crowd of 8,000 in a city known for its love of football, in an arena unexposed to the new sport, in thin air that will test the stamina of single-platoon players.
There also will be a few new faces on both sides. Washington (1-1) brought in wide receiver/defensive back David Groman of Northwestern Lousiana to replace Richard DuPree. Denver (1-1) got ex-Vanderbilt quarterback Whitt Taylor to replace Marty Mornhinweg. Both Mornhinweg and DuPree suffered season-ending knee injuries in last week's game. In addition, Denver released lineman Eric Larkin and replaced him with Kelly Kirchbaum, 30, who played with the U.S. Football League's Tampa Bay Bandits and three NFL teams.
Denver Coach Tim Marcum said he had not decided whether Taylor would start, but the Dynamite's other quarterback, Stuart Mitchell, completed only eight of 27 passes last week.
Marcum is hoping the changes, and a little better execution, might change the outcome. In the teams' first meeting, Denver lost, 36-20.
"I don't know anything about revenge or anything like that," Marcum said. "I just hope we can give them a better game. Last week, they ripped our butts."
The Commandos succeeded last week primarily because they shut off Denver's blitzes and established an option offense that opened up long passes. Lenny Taylor caught seven passes for 115 yards and Dwayne Dixon had 31 yards on five receptions.
But Marcum says he doesn't plan to change style. "I like to try and press people," he says. "Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."
Said Dixon: "If they sit back and wait, we'll five-and-dime them all the way down the field. But if they come up on us, we'll do what we do best and throw the ball long."
Marcum raved about Commandos quarterback Rich Ingold, who completed 17 of 28 passes for 195 yards in his first start. "I was really impressed with Ingold, and we hit him pretty doggone hard," Marcum said. "He should have had a tough time getting out of bed the next morning. We had a couple of good sandwich jobs on him."
Ingold said he's expecting roughly the same defense this week, and lineman Kendall Walls said the Dynamite may only alter the type of blitzes it sends. Commandos Coach Bob Harrison added that protecting Ingold could be tougher than last week. "They've had a chance to watch the mistakes they made and improve on them," he said.