SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake Stallions have already had their fill of San Antonio this year.
If they want to go undefeated in the back half of the Alliance of American Football season and stay in the playoff hunt, though, the road goes through San Antonio.
The Stallions face the Western Conference-leading San Antonio Commanders on Saturday at 6 p.m. MDT (NFL Network) at the Alamodome, the first of two meetings — one in Texas, the other in Utah — between the squads in the final four weeks of the season.
“I’ve told everybody they’re better than their record,” San Antonio coach Mike Riley said of the Stallions to Commanders team reporter Cole Thompson. “They’ve had a lot of close games. Really maybe as stout of a defense that we’ve seen and they’re very capable of moving the ball.”
Salt Lake spent training camp with the rest of the league in San Antonio, then stayed in town an extra two weeks into the season as the Stallions’ facilities were finalized.
The Stallions, at 2-4, find themselves one game behind San Diego and Arizona in the Western Conference standings, with 4-2 San Antonio at the top. In addition to the two games against the Commanders, the Stallions also have a home game against San Diego remaining.
Salt Lake is coming off its largest margin of victory this season, beating the one-win Memphis Express 22-9. The Stallions defense had a league-record seven sacks, while the Salt Lake offense built a 19-0 lead behind a strong passing game led by quarterback Josh Woodrum.
“We play together as a unit. I believe that a sack isn’t a sack without everyone covering, driving and the pass rush," Stallions linebacker Gionni Paul said.
San Antonio, meanwhile, enters Saturday's game on a three-game winning streak and will be playing its first game in Texas since Week 2. Last week, the Commanders blitzed Atlanta 37-6 in a game that featured a 79-yard punt return touchdown from Greg Ward Jr., an 87-yard pick-6 and a strong night from quarterback Logan Woodside.
“What we did better last week for sure was capitalized in the red zone,” Riley said. “We scored some touchdowns and when the defense got a turnover, we turned them back into points.”Comment on this story
One thing in particular the Stallions will need to watch against San Antonio is turnovers. While the Salt Lake offense has put up some of its best numbers of the season the past two weeks, the Stallions have also turned the ball over nine times in that stretch, spoiling some prime scoring opportunities.
"The playoffs are the end goal for the season. But right now, we’re just trying to win this next game," Woodrum said following Salt Lake's win over Memphis. "Right now, we feel really good about our team. We were 1-4 but we really felt like we should’ve been at worst 3-2, and at best 4-1. ... We’re a great team. If we just cut down on the turnovers, we’ll put up a lot more points than we did today.”