ARENAFOOTBALL
2013 Preview: Tampa Bay Storm

ARENAFOOTBALLDOTCOM Stephen Wasil got the job done on his feet last season, but the Storm will need more from his arm to be successful in 2013.
 
Stephen Wasil got the job done on his feet last season, but the Storm will need more from his arm to be successful in 2013.
ARENAFOOTBALLDOTCOM

Feb. 6, 2013

By RYAN MILLINOWISCH, AFNATION

2012 RECORD: 8-10 (4th, American Conference South)

LAST PLAYOFF APPERANCE: 2010 (Lost to Spokane Shock in ArenaBowl XXIII)

COACH (RECORD): Dave Ewart (39-53 overall, 18-23 with Tampa Bay)

OFFENSIVE STAR: Stephen Wasil, QB (3664 passing yards, 71 TD, 105.22 passer rating)

DEFENSIVE STAR: Rashad Barksdale, DB (113.5 tackles, 2 INT, 11 PBU)

2012 OFFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 6th overall (8th rushing, 6th passing) 8th scoring (56.7 ppg)

2012 DEFENSIVE TEAM RANKS: 8th overall (5th rushing, 10th passing) 17th scoring (61.6 ppg)

KEY ADDITIONS: WR Greg Ellingson (New Orleans), WR James Hardy (Arizona), OL Thomas Claiborne (Milwaukee), DB Rashad Barksdale (Kansas City), DB Travis Williams (Spokane), DB Bryan Evans (Jacksonville)

KEY DEPARTURES: WR Prechae Rodriguez (Orlando)

KEY FREE AGENTS: QB Nick Hill, WR Amarri Jackson, LB Steve Octavien, DB Deonte Bolden, DB Lendy Holmes

MARQUEE MATCHUPS: Orlando (Week 12), at Jacksonville (Week 19)

PROGNOSIS: The Tampa Bay Storm have made great strides in the team’s rebuilding effort – a job that will continue to be a work in progress in 2013. Quarterback Stephen Wasil showed promise in his first full season as a starter last year, debuting in grand fashion with a 300-yard passing performance against the Chicago Rush to kick off the 2012 season. He also got the job done on his legs, scoring 19 touchdowns on the ground. While the Storm no doubt appreciate his ability to  make plays in the running game, the passing attack will need to improve for Tampa Bay to keep pace in what looks to be a very competitive South Division. Receivers Joe Hills and Michael Lindsey began to build some chemistry with Wasil towards the end of last year, while 2013 acquisitions Greg Ellingson and James Hardy have been brought in to soften the statistical blow of losing the team’s two top receivers from a year ago. Defensively, several key players from last season’s roster remain unassigned, including Mac linebacker Steve Octavien and defensive backs Deonte Bolden and Lendy Holmes; however, the team did bring back defensive lineman Pernell Phillips, who led the squad with seven sacks in 2012. Joining the team in 2013 is third-year defensive back Rashad Barksdale, who racked up 113.5 tackles in Kansas City last season. He, along with fellow DB acquisitions Bryan Evans and Travis Williams, should help shore up a defensive that ranked last in points allowed in 2012. With very little turnover on the roster, Tampa Bay already has a great deal of familiarity as a team, which may enable the Storm to get off to a quick start in 2013.