1999 Results | Game Coverage
Who: Tampa Bay Storm at Milwaukee Mustangs
Kicking Off...In the preseason, both Milwaukee and Tampa Bay were expected by many to be strong contenders for a trip to ArenaBowl XIII. Now, both clubs enter this unusual Thursday night date staring at 0-2 ledgers to open the season. Both teams saw opening games that exposed serious problems with each team's defensive unit. The Mustangs yielded 328 yards to a Portland outfit minus its most prolific player from 1998 in current Miami Dolphin Oronde Gadsden, while the Storm allowed a franchise-worst 390 yards, including a ghastly 372 through the air.
"It is a long season, and I hate to do the cliche thing about how it's a big game," Storm coach Tim Marcum said. "But it's a big game."
The Coaches...Tampa Bay - Tim Marcum, 51-15 in his fifth season with the Storm, 106-27 in ten AFL seasons.
Milwaukee - Rick Frazier, 7-8 in his second season with the Mustangs, 7-8 in two AFL seasons.
In 1999...Tampa Bay (0-1) - Lost to Albany 49-42.
Milwaukee (0-1) - Lost to Portland 61-27.
Mustangs to Watch...QB Todd Hammel - For most of his career, he led a relatively stable existence---always the starter, always reasonably productive, never an elite QB and never the star on a championship contender. His greatest flirtation with success came in 1996, when he set career highs in completion percentage, yardage and passer rating as the Mustangs blitzed to a 10-4 record before falling in the first round at Albany. While Hammel has never been named to the All-AFL first team---or even the second team---he has quietly managed to etch his name in league annals, bettering many of former Storm QB Jay Gruden's gaudy totals. Hammel now is the league's all-time leader in attempts, completions and yardage, and stands in third place in touchdowns, just eight behind current second-place holder Gruden. However, his consistency was jarred last week at Portland, as he endured a rotten two-interception, 148-yard showing that included just one touchdown pass. Similar performances in future games could perhaps engender the Kevin McDougal Era in Milwaukee. Playing in parts of five games last year, the former Notre Dame signal-caller threw for 11 touchdowns against just two picks and posted an impressive 108.59 pass efficiency rating.
DS Chris Barber - Acquired in the offseason, Barber is a face that Storm QB Peter Tom Willis would rather not see. The last time the two players were on the field was in ArenaBowl XII, Barber proceeded to set a career high and tie the AFL playoff record for interceptions in a game with three, including two in the second quarter that helped hasten the Storm's complete collapse. Deemed expendable by Orlando, which sought to give more playing time to a younger cadre of defensive backs, led by playoff hero Kenny McEntyre, Barber has been among the league's elite players in the last two years. In 1997, he set the league record (since broken by former Storm DS Johnnie Harris) for passes defended, and made the All-AFL first team in 1997 and second team in 1998.
WR/DB Gary Compton - Like Hammel, his longtime partner in crime, he is one of the league's most unheralded, yet effective, players. The two have played together since first breaking into the league in Dallas in 1992, joining Fort Worth in 1994 and moving on to Milwaukee in 1995. Compton currently ranks fifth in league annals with 411 receptions, fifth in receiving yardage with 5,914 and sixth in receiving touchdowns with 99. In addition, he turned in his best season in 1998, setting career standards in receptions (101), receiving yards (1,484) and touchdowns (33). Last week, Compton again led the Mustangs on offense, catching six passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Noting the Storm...They Came to Bury Caesar, But Then He Rose From the Dead - One week after being waived by the New England Sea Wolves, former Storm FB/LB/OL/DL Ivan Caesar resurfaced with the Mustangs. Caesar, best known for his over-exuberance on the field and his attempt to steal Marcum's 1996 championship ring during a 1997 training camp practice, was suspended for one year after the ring-snatching incident but returned to play for Portland last year. Marcum, however, downplayed the idea of facing off against his attacker for the first time since the 1997 incident. "That print is wrapping the fish," he said. "It's yesterday's news."
Crashed Into Us - Not being able to practice in the Ice Palace isn't unusual for the Storm; concerts and shows come into the building at a fairly regular clip, and the team will probably end up having as many practices at the Brandon Indoor Soccer Facility this year as it will in its home arena. However, what is unusual about this week is the fact that the Dave Matthews Band and the roadies and setup surrounding it is taking up the various smaller locker rooms in the building which the Storm use as meeting space. For watching video, players had to crowd into the two largest offices in the team's business offices---those belonging to Chris Lahey, the team's vice-president of sales and marketing, and Marcum.
What Would You Say? - ...if we shared some factoids with you. Hopefully, you'd say, "Fire away," and we'll continue on under that assumption. Consider the following tidbits...If the Storm falls on Thursday, it will start at 0-2 for the first time since 1994, when the team finished 7-5 after falling in its opening two games against Charlotte and at Albany...In addition, 0-2 would put Marcum in an unfamiliar position. 0-1 was unfamiliar enough; he hadn't seen that mark on his ledger since 1992, when his Detroit Drive lost the season opener to the Fran Curci-led Cincinnati Rockers, 37-34. However, Marcum has never failed to come out of the first two weeks with at least a .500 record...Two losses would also equal the Storm's total for the 1998 regular season...When factoring in the ArenaBowl XII loss to Orlando, the Storm is now on its first multi-game losing streak since the 1997 season, when Tampa Bay dropped three in a row. Ironically, that particular skein began with a home loss to Milwaukee...Tampa Bay is 6-2 in road openers...Milwaukee is 2-3 in home openers, and has gotten off to 0-2 starts three times in their five previous seasons...The Mustangs went 1-7 last year against playoff teams.
Ranking the Storm - After one week, Tampa Bay ranks low in the league's statistical figures in many defensive categories, a condition apt to draw serious concern, given the fact that the Storm led the league in both total defense and scoring defense last season. The Storm is currently last in total defense, last in passing yardage defense and next-to-last in pass efficiency defense and first downs allowed...The Storm gave up a franchise-record 390 yards against Albany; last week, that was 30 yards worse than the second-worst defensive performance, by Houston in a 69-36 loss to Iowa on Friday night...With 321 yards through the air, QB Peter Tom Willis ranks fourth in the league in passing yardage, behind Mike Pawlawski of Albany, Rickey Foggie of New Jersey and Houston's Clint Dolezel...FB/LB Andre Bowden's 19-yard rushing total is good for fourth in the league after one week...Lawrence Samuels caught 11 passes last week, placing him third on the league reception count...DS Tracey Perkins' nine tackles was second-best in the league last weekend.
Tampa Bay-Milwaukee Connections - Former Storm FB/LB/OL/DL Ivan Caesar signed with the Mustangs this week...Mustang QB Todd Hammel was a 12th round selection of the Buccaneers in 1990...Marcum and Hammel were together with the New York-New Jersey Knights of the World League in 1991; Marcum served as assistant head coach on the club...Hammel and WR/DB Gary Compton spent 1994 with the Fort Worth Cavalry, a team owned by current Storm boss Peter C. "Woody" Kern...Mustang WR/DB Rodney Mazion is a graduate of Chamberlain High School in Tampa...DS Chris Barber finished the 1992 season with the Buccaneers...WR/DB Herb Duncan was an 11th round draft choice of the Bucs in 1989...Lineman Flint Fleming played with the Storm during the first two months of the 1997 season before being traded to Arizona...Mustang WR/DB Gary Compton played for current Storm coach Eddie Vowell at East Texas State (now known as Texas A&M-Commerce).
Injury Front - WR/LB Stevie Thomas left Saturday's game with a rib contusion. He missed practice on Monday but was at full speed on Tuesday, albeit with a little more protection, and should be ready for Thursday's game...WR/DB Alvoid Mays, who saw the most significant playing time of his AFL career on Saturday, missed Monday's practice at the Brandon Indoor Soccer Facility with a sore elbow but participated in all of Tuesday's workout...Still on injured reserve with ankle injuries, are WR/DB Tony Covington, WR/DB Derrick Atterberry and FB/LB Steve Lee. Also on the injured reserve list is WR/LB Jason Dulick, still hampered by a right knee injury.
Series History...Although the Mustangs are now in their sixth year in the Arena Football League, they have only met the Storm three times. Tampa Bay holds a 2-1 series edge, but Milwaukee holds a one-game winning streak.
07/09/94 - Tampa Bay 69, Milwaukee 35 - Struggling through its worst season, the Storm came in at 3-3 on its way to a final mark of 7-5. But their troubles compared to those of the Mustangs, who used five quarterbacks and two head coaches en route to an 0-12 disaster. The game got out of hand early as the Storm took a 14-0 lead 6:21 into the contest. By the end of the third quarter, Tampa Bay's lead was 48-14, and the only question was whether the Storm would set a team record for points. Helping Tampa Bay's cause was six Mustang turnovers---four fumbles and two interceptions. Three fourth quarter touchdowns gave Tampa Bay its highest point total ever. QB Jay Gruden threw seven touchdown passes, four to Stevie Thomas. Incidentally, the game was billed as the last time fans would ever see the Storm in their Zubaz uniforms, which were worn regularly in 1991 and 1992 and brought back on occasion for the following two years. This proved to be a case of false advertising, as the Storm wore their Zubaz one final time against Massachusetts two weeks later. Box Score
08/03/95 - Tampa Bay 56, Milwaukee 27 - Tampa Bay needed this game to clinch home-field advantage for the playoffs, while Milwaukee came in out of the playoff running but looking to take a stunning upset into the offseason. For three quarters, such a result looked possible. Finally, the Storm pulled away, scoring 21 unanswered points to close out the game and the regular season. Cedric McKinnon scored three touchdowns on the ground and Gruden added 240 yards through the air as the Storm set themselves up for a first-round meeting against Memphis one week later. Box Score
05/31/97 - Milwaukee 52, Tampa Bay 41 - In front of what was then the smallest crowd to ever attend a Storm home game, the Mustangs capitalized off of a controversial fourth quarter call to outscore Tampa Bay 21-6 in the final period and win going away. The Storm's problems came to a head when Mustang lineman Ross Setters fell on a missed Kenny Stucker field goal at the Tampa Bay one-yard-line. According to the rules, the Storm should have gained possession right at that spot, because Tampa Bay had not touched the ball and Setters fell on the ball one yard short of the goal line on what was a fourth-and-goal situation. However, referee Buddy Ward---who was a party to the controversial timekeeping ending against Albany last week---ruled that the ball belonged to the Mustangs, in spite of the rule book's intonations to the contrary. Milwaukee scored two plays after the controversial play and never looked back. Enraged by the call, Marcum spent part of his postgame press conference reading straight from the rule book: "If the ball rebounds [off the net] beyond the line [of scrimmage] and touches the ground or is caught in the air with no receivers in the area, the [kickers team] will have to make the [yardage needed] for a first down," he said, quoting the rule book. "If not, first and ten for the receiving team." Game Coverage
Compiled by Andrew Mason.
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