Force still searching for first win of season

FLOWERY BRANCH - 0-2 was not the plan.

Sure the opening schedule was tough, but last year's Georgia Force team lost two games the entire season. Now this is a team searching for a win. Any win.

"None of us are getting over (losing)," said Force head coach Doug Plank. "It is something that is on your mind every single minute of every day. These last two weeks have not been very enjoyable."

And it's been the Force ruining these weeks for themselves.

After two games, Georgia leads the AFL in total offense and passing offense per game, yet is 13th in touchdowns scored. It is first in defense, giving up just 238.5 yards a game, yet is 12th in scoring defense with 60 points allowed a game. There are only 17 teams in the league.

The reason?

The team is 16th in turnover margin at minus-4 and last in penalties with 78.5 yards. It's been a season of missed opportunities.

"We'll get out there and we'll watch the game film after the game and we'll say, 'Boy look at this play, look at that, look at that,'" said defensive coordinator Bob Kronenberg. "And all of a sudden you have mistakes that follow everything. That is what is happening right now."

For the offense it is turnovers. For the defense it's penalties.

The good news. It's only Week 3.

"This just makes the next 14 games more sweet because we have a legitimate chance to pull things together and make a run at this thing," said defensive lineman Ernest Allen. "We should be fine."

In Allen's defensive front is a microcosm of the Force's manic swings. In last week's loss at Tampa Bay, Georgia hit the quarterback 16 times for no sacks and committed nine penalties.

"That is pretty much a wash," Kronenberg said of the hits on the quarterback and the penalties. "We are going to get to the quarterback. We are. Now it is just a matter of eliminating the penalties. Jumping offsides is ridiculous."

Allen, who had a team-high 61/2 sacks last season, knows how to get to the quarterback, but has just one sack so far this season, leading the team. The offsides may be related to the near-sacks.

"It's been people doing too much and trying to do more than your job and trying to over-do what your responsibility is," Allen said of the penalties. "(It's guys) trying to create something and being so amped and so overly aggressive that you tend to make mistakes. If we calm down, we understand what we have to do.

"This next game we have to finish our responsibility, which is to stay onsides and understand that we have to get to (the quarterback) with the ball in his hand and create some turnovers."

And for the first time this season, the defense may get extra time. Los Angeles quarterback Sonnie Crumbie takes time to make plays with his arm. The Texas Tech grad is the first quarterback to come from the spread-passing system in place in Lubbock and prefers deeper drops than the quick hits Tampa and Dallas use.

"We have a quarterback this week who is going to be back in the pocket," Plank said of Crumbie, who will throw the ball the length of the field. "They don't have long continuous drives. They try to go for the quick score early in the game."

But if the penalties and turnovers persist, more sacks and even more points may not matter.

"There are no weak teams that the Georgia Force are currently playing," Plank said. "At 0-2 you only have one way to go."

SideBar: Avengers at Force

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Arena at Gwinnett Center

Radio: 790-AM