SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Blaze are standing at a crossroad.
After falling to Milwaukee with seven turnovers, the Blaze are currently resting at 4-4 on the season with division foe San Jose coming into town at EnergySolutions Arena tonight at 7 p.m.
This undoubtedly could be considered the biggest game of the season. Falling under .500 for the first time this season could be a double-whammy if that comes with another division loss.
"Well it's pretty simple for us. We have to take care of the football. Last week we didn't do that, and you can't do that against a good team and expect to be in the ballgame," said Utah coach Ron James when asked what the key was to stopping the six-game losing streak to the SaberCats. "We had a good hard-fought game against them and some of the stops they accomplished were incredible. We need to return that favor here at home."
The Blaze fell to the SaberCats 75-55 in the fourth week of the season.
Utah will try to accomplish this all without one of its best players in Aaron Boone. The franchise leader in virtually every receiving category was contemplating season-ending knee surgery earlier in the year, but continued to play regardless.
However, after last week's game the knee began to swell up more, forcing him to make the decision to undergo surgery yesterday afternoon.
"That's upsetting to us, but at the same time we have talent around him," said James. "We're spreading the ball around pretty well. We're not just honing in on one target."
Aaron Lesue is also battling a nagging ankle injury sustained against Milwaukee when he was tackled awkwardly.
"That's a week to week thing," said James on Lesue. "We don't know exactly what's going to happen. He's a tough kid and we can expect to have him back pretty soon."
With the increasing amount of injuries at the receiver position, the No. 1 ranked offense in the AFL is in serious jeopardy.
"We had to make some changes because we're depleted at the receiver core, so we brought a bunch of guys in this week and we got some great looks," James said. "We had some roster changes, but the big thing is on special teams making sure we're taking care of the ball. We emphasized that this week."
Ernie Pierce will start taking reps at Boone's position to fill the gap.
The Blaze also signed Chris Bocage (5-10, 190, USC), Ralph Turner (5-9, 185, South Alabama) and Justin Ore (6-2, 195, Western Oregon) at wideout this week.
"He comes in very highly touted," said James of Ore, "he's been doing some good things here as well."
Blaze on the air
SaberCats at Blaze
Today, 7 p.m.
TV: KUCW Radio: 1280 AM