One thing Georgia Force head coach Dean Cokinos likes about his team is its resiliency.
The Force showed it again last week in rebounding from an emotionally disappointing home loss to Orlando the previous week with a solid 57-48 road win over Milwaukee.
What Cokinos wants to see next out of the Force is greater consistency, something they will have an opportunity to show when they welcome the Pittsburgh Power to The Arena at Gwinnett Center tonight for a 7:35 kickoff.
The Force (4-2) do have a two-game winning streak this season, though they struggled at times — especially with turnovers — in the back end of that streak, a 55-48 win over Dallas back on April 8.
“Something we’ve tried to instill in the players (since training) camp is to be consistent,” Cokinos said. “They seem to have bought into it, but there are going to be some tough losses in this league. So you have to be mentally capable to bounce back, and we’ve done that.
“The key to this game is all about possessions. If you don’t maximize your possessions, you’re going to have a problem. In Milwaukee, we did a better job of that. (Tonight), we have to be focused on protecting the football and eliminating penalties.”
The Force are hoping to build on the better job they did in Milwaukee, in which Brett Elliott completed 21 of 30 passes with only one interception for 246 yards and seven touchdowns, three of which went to Maurice Purify (6-105).
Meanwhile, Ahmad Hawkins (eight tackles, INT) and Tracy Belton (2 INTs) led another solid effort by the defense.
They will have to be on their toes tonight against Pittsburgh, especially since it is still uncertain which quarterback they will see.
The Power (3-3, second in the East Division) got a solid outing from former Penn State quarterback and Pittsburgh native Anthony Morelli (25-35-0, 232 yards, 6 TDs), their third starting quarterback of the young season.
However, with original starter Bernard Morris ready to return from injured reserve, Cokinos says the Force is preparing for either signal caller, as well as some of their favorite targets, such as Jason Willis (42-407, 5 TDs).
“Definitely the unknown (factor) is there,” Cokinos said. “We have to plan for two quarterbacks. One of them (Morelli) is more mobile than the other, but with either, they like to do similar things. So, we’re planning for what they do. We just have to be aware that one of both guys may play.”
Tonight’s game will also could be a rather important swing game.
With a third of the schedule completed, the Force find themselves in decent shape not only in the South Division (tied for second with Orlando a game behind Jacksonville, though the lost the first meeting with both teams) and in the Arena Football League’s Eastern Conference, where they currently occupy the last wild card.
But Pittsburgh is only a game behind them, and Cokinos says the Force know how critical a head-to-head win over the Power tonight could be later down the road.
“It’s an opportunity to get some separation,” Cokinos said. “You want to try to separate yourself from the pack instead of falling back into it. A third of the way into the season, we’re in a good place, but the second third is where we’ve really got to make a move.”