Kicker Brady Beeson didn’t make it to the Tri-Cities last week before the Fever’s 52-49 overtime victory last Saturday at Colorado.
Fever coach Adam Shackleford signed Beeson pretty much sight unseen, watching a little film on him and then talking to him on the phone.
“He said he was 20-for-20 in his practice today, and that was good enough for me,” said Shackleford.
So Beeson met the team in Colorado the night before, and he came through in Saturday’s win with four field goals and going 4-for-6 in extra-point kicks.
Tonight, Beeson gets to play in front of the Fever fans, when Tri-Cities (11-2) plays host to the Wyoming Cavalry (4-9) at 7:05 p.m. in the Toyota Center.
It’s the final regular-season Indoor Football League game for the Fever before the playoffs begin June 22.
Shackleford came away impressed with Beeson. But he was also cautious.
“It’s only one game,” said Shackleford. “But we don’t like kicking field goals.”Beeson understands.
“It was funny,” he said. “At halftime, (Shackleford) is saying ‘We’re kicking field goals. We don’t want to kick field goals.’ Then he turned and looked at me and said ‘But great job by the way.’”
Beeson said before Saturday’s win, his last meaningful game had been when he played college ball for the University of St. Thomas in a playoff game against Linfield in 2009.
But in the IFL, he’s had to adjust.
“I had been kicking NFL footballs, and the IFL ball is smaller,” Beeson said. “I did have two extra-point kicks blocked last game. It’s tough, especially if we don’t have the timing down. And we had an offsides on the opening kickoff because nobody knew my steps.”
Practice this week has helped.
But Beeson’s toughest adjustments has been kickoffs.
“It’s a lot more strategical from the kickoff,” said Beeson. “There’s a lot more squibbing and onside kicks in indoor football.”
Despite that, Beeson expects success tonight.
“The way guys have accepted me here, I feel confident,” he said. “I’m taking it one day and one kick at a time.”
GAME TIME ADJUSTMENTS: The Fever and Cavalry have met twice already this season, so there shouldn’t be any surprises tonight as far as strategy.
“It’s been the same,” said Wyoming coach Dan Maciejczak. “Coach Shack has done a great job. Their quarterback (Houston Lillard) is one of the top quarterbacks around. We have to stop the run. If we do that, we’ve got a chance. Against Tri-Cities, we’ve been close.”
Shackleford said his defense has to create turnovers and contain Cavalry quarterback Matt Strand.
“He’s their best weapon,” Shackleford said.
Maciejczak knows his offense can put up numbers. But it has to be consistent.
“We’ve got to figure out how to score on every series,” he said.
Shackleford is looking to do the same.
“Offensively, I think we’ve got to be able to get second-and-short and third-and-short situations,” Shackleford said. “We have to stay away from long down situations. They’ve got a decent pass rush, and (defensive lineman Dominic) Payne is as good as you can get.”Most importantly, said Shackleford, is his team needs to go into the playoffs with a good performance, because it’ll be almost two weeks before that first playoff game.
“We want to leave this game feeling that’s how we have to play in the playoffs,” said Shackleford. “We don’t want guys to say ‘Wow, we got away with one’, or ‘We shouldn’t have lost this one.’”
NOTESShackleford and defensive coordinator Ryan Lingenfelder were barbecuing for the team at the players’ apartment complex Friday night. “We’re having a good team dinner,” he said. “We try to do it once a month.” ... Fever running back Dennis Kennedy ranks third in total yards at 1,467. ... Strand is third in passing yards at 2,838, but he leads the league with 62 TD passes. ... Wyoming’s Jason Tillery leads the league with 84 catches, while the Fever’s Steven Whitehead is second with 79. Tillery also has the most receiving yardage (1,051) and TD catches (27). ... TC’s Lionell Singleton is second in the IFL with 11 interceptions. He also has a league-best 12 pass breakups.