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Thursday, 04 August 2016 16:00

‘From a talent standpoint, we are the better team’ says Steam head coach Robinson of Bliss match up

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QB Dakota Hughes (18) will lead Atlanta against Chicago on the final week of the LFL 2016 regular season. Image courtesy Tony Villatoro/Toro Photo.

The Atlanta Steam (1-1-1) will be on the road to take on the Chicago Bliss (2-1-0) on the final weekend of the 2016 Legends Football League regular season, also known as the Lingerie Football League, in a game that is critical to the Atlanta franchise.

While the matchup on Saturday is not a must-win for either team because the same clubs will meet the following week to decide the Eastern Conference winner no matter the outcome of Saturday’s contest, a win is critical for Atlanta to build momentum for the conference title game. A win would prove to the Steam players and coaches that they truly can beat a good team-even more importantly that they can come out victorious against the mighty Bliss.

The 2016 season was to be the season that Atlanta asserted their dominance over the Eastern Conference but as the final game of the regular season arrives, Chicago is still the team to beat.

Atlanta opened the season with another drubbing of the Omaha Heart, but a loss to Western Conference power Los Angeles in what will be remembered as one of the league’s great games followed by a “tie” against a New England franchise that could not field a team has led to the showdown with Chicago that will come in the Windy City-again. For the Steam to truly believe they can defeat the Bliss in the conference title game, they MUST come away with a win this Saturday night.

In a chat about the coming battle with Chicago, third-year head coach Dane Robinson said that “We are ready, and we are prepared to get over the hump and prove we can beat Chicago.” Robinson went on to say that “From a talent standpoint, we are the better team.”

LFL Amanda Ruller GSR

Amanda Ruller, seen in action as a member of the LA Temptation, will be back after a hamstring injury to add speed at both WR and out of the backfield for the Steam.

Despite lacking a win against a quality opponent, Robinson has tremendous faith that his offense, led by third-year QB Dakota Hughes, will be effective against what is a less talented Bliss defense this season. Robinson believes that having Brittany Demery back to supply power out of the backfield will compliment the effort of Jessie Locklear. Add the speed of Amanda Ruller to the mix both at receiver and out of the backfield, and Robinson believes Atlanta will be able to put up enough points to beat Chicago.

A big part of that belief is based on the signing of free agent Nneka Nwani, a player that was a key component to the Bliss defense for the last two championship seasons. It has been said that Nwani is “probably the best physically gifted athlete in the league” by Colton Cull, the editor of LFL360.com. Cull is not alone in his praise. When talking about the impact the free-agent signing would have on the final games of the season, Robinson said Nwani is “an incredible athlete.”

Robinson plans to utilize Nwani on both sides of the ball against Chicago, utilizing her size and strength on the O-line in a move that should increase the threat of big gainers on the ground, and counting on her on defense to contain the biggest threat that Chicago has on offense-Chrisdell Harris. Harris has been able to wear down the Steam defense in virtually every meeting between the two teams in the last three seasons. For Atlanta to win, Harris must be contained.

It should add to the intensity on the field that Nwani and Harris have a real dislike of each other that was evident on the reality show that centered on Chicago last season.

It should be pointed out that Atlanta fan favorite Lauran Zigler will not be active for the game due to a knee issue, but Ziggy told me she will be back for the playoffs.

There is no doubt that this version of the Chicago Bliss is not as talented overall as the previous editions, and the experience and talent level of the 2016 Atlanta Steam is the best the franchise has fielded to date, it remains to be seen if that will result in a W.

While Atlanta and Chicago have had bad blood in the past, Robinson says that there is now “Mutual respect” that is new after many of the players and coaches spent time together during the All-Fantasy event in Guatemala last season.

Robinsons says he learned much from Chicago head coach Keith Hac during the time they spent together, and he knows Hac “plans to embarrass” Atlanta again, but insists Atlanta “is ready.”

The lone Chicago loss this season came in their season opener against the Seattle Mist by a 40-28 count that led to Hac proclaiming afterwards that “We won’t lose again in 2016.” Since then, the Bliss has beaten New England 70-7, and Omaha 66-0. While neither game was more than a scrimmage for Chicago, it proved the Bliss can put points on the board with new quarterback Jacinda Barclay leading the team.

For Atlanta to win on Saturday night, the Steam D must force a couple of turnovers from Barclay through the air. For that to happen, Harris must be contained well enough that Coach Hac will be forced to go to the air. The question to be answered is this; can Atlanta step up in a big game to beat a good team?

We will know soon.

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Read 4767 times Last modified on Thursday, 04 August 2016 16:10
Mike Delrio

After six seasons covering pro sports as a credentialed writer/photogrpaher in the Atlanta area, Mike began covering Gwinnett County High School sports in 2013 which led to the launch of Gwinnettsportsreport.com. GSR is a site that highlights prep and youth sports in Gwinnett County. While baseball. basketball, and football receive the majority of the attention, GSR will include updates and news on a variety of sports across the county.

GSR coverage of pro teams in the county began in June 2015.  

With many of the top athletes and teams in Georgia calling Gwinnett home, there is a never-ending stream of news and Gwinnettsportsreport.com looks forward to becoming one of your favorite sports blogs for updates on the outstanding athletes in our county.

 

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