When the Tri-Cities Fever visits the Omaha Beef at 5:05 p.m. today, Fever head coach Adam Shackleford sees a very tough opponent.
"They're very consistent. They have a tremendous running back and a great quarterback," Shackleford said. "They will be the best team we play so far this season. There is no weakness with this team."
Omaha quarterback James McNear has passed for 389 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception in the Beef's two wins. Running back R.J. Rollins averages four yards a carry.
So what can Shackleford's 2-1 Fever do to try to beat the 2-0 Beef?
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"We need to be consistent and take care of the football," he said.
The last time the Fever played on the road, it didn't do that, turning the ball over five times in a 59-52 loss to Wenatchee Valley.
Nothing bothers Shackleford more than turnovers. And even though the Fever won its last game, 50-35 at home over the Fairbanks Grizzlies, Shackleford has not been happy with his team's play over the last month.
"No coach wants to admit that his guys didn't play very well," he said. "(After the win over Fairbanks) I didn't feel better than after the loss to Wenatchee. I want guys to get good film. I don't want to turn the ball over."
Many of the Fever players are in their first year of indoor football, and the road atmosphere might have been a shocker for some of them in Wenatchee.
"I think (the last road game) will help," Shackleford said. "I think as a coach it's not something you dwell on. You've got to deal with the environment. I'm not worried about my guys. They'll do the right thing."
Fever quarterback Houston Lillard has recovered enough from his turf toe injury that he's expected to start tonight.
He'll take an offense ranked second in the Indoor Football League in scoring, averaging 59.3 points a game, into Ak-Sar-Ben Arena.
Omaha, meanwhile, is second in the league in total offense with 257 yards a game. Tri-City is third at 247.3.
Defensively, the Beef is ranked third in points surrendered at 28 a game. The Fever is 11th at 40.7 a game. The Beef is second in the IFL in yards surrendered at 151 a game. The Fever is 10th at 207.
Statistics aside, Shackleford considers this game a great test for his team.
"We play well at home," Shackleford said. "We've got to win some road games."
Notes: Fans can watch the game at Kimo's in Richland. ... KONA 610 AM will carry the game, with the pregame show at 4:30 p.m. ... Lillard is second in the league with 18 TD passes. ... Fever receivers Joey Hew Len and Steven Whitehead are tied for 10th in the IFL with 15 receptions each. Hew Len leads the league with eight TD catches.