Secondary still a work in progress for Soul


Secondary still a work in progress for Soul

Make more plays.

That's the consensus among members of the Soul's secondary. That's what they need to do. That's what their focusing on -- making more plays.

Any defensive back would love to record 12 interceptions in one season. But 12 total interceptions as a team, which is what the Soul has this season, well, that's a problem.

The Soul are 6-5 after 11 games, but if you talk to the members of the secondary unit, they'll tell you they could have made more plays to put the team in a better position to have a better record.

Veteran defensive back LaRico Stevenson was the first point out the positives within the secondary. He said the unit has the athleticism to compete and be among the best in the AFL. He understands there is talent, but he also knows improvement is needed.

"We're still learning," Stevenson, who leads the team with four interceptions, said.

He wouldn't point to chemistry as the problem. Rayshaun Kizer went a different route, too.

The Soul are eighth in the AFL in turnovers with 20 total. That's the good news. The bad news is they have the fifth-worst pass defense, allowing opponents to average 263.7 passing yards.

Kizer, who is second on the team with three interceptions blamed his "lack of concentration" for not making plays when he needed to. As unit though...

"We are not making the plays like we did last season," Kizer said. "I know, I can speak for myself, I've dropped a couple of picks, you know; when the opportunity presents itself you got to make it because normally, the next play, they're going to end up scoring."

Rookie defensive back James Romain mentioned confidence as the reason the Soul have not been able to create more turnovers in the air.

"We're just not catching them," said Romain. "Once we start catching them and getting that confidence ... picks will start rolling in and quarterbacks will be real sad."

Soul head coach Clint Dolezel knows his secondary can do better. In fact, he saw just what they can do two weeks ago against the AFL's best team, the Arizona Rattlers.

The Soul forced Nick Davila, easily the best quarterback in the league this season, to throw a season-high three interceptions. In that game, you could see that confidence was there. The concentration, too.

"We meshed front to back," Dolezel said. "We put pressure. We had the right coverage at the right time. We got pressure when we didn't have great coverage. When we did have great coverage, we had pressure, too."

Last week against New Orleans was a different story. Not only did the Soul not record an interception, though the opportunities were there, they allowed the VooDoo, a team with the third-worst passing offense, to put up 301 yards in the air. For the season, New Orleans only averages 237.4 passing yards.

Kizer didn't sugarcoat his thoughts on the fact the Soul only recorded 12 interceptions this season.

"I think it's kind of bad," he said."... As a team, right now, we have 12 after 11 games! I mean, one pick a game. We got to get that up, especially going into the second half of the season and the playoffs. We have to get our turnovers up in the secondary."

Thing is, though the secondary haven't capitalized on forcing turnovers, they haven't really hurt the team all that much, either.

The Soul are seventh in the league in scoring defense, allowing opponents to score 52.8 points. For all the plays the secondary didn't make after 11 games, the unit also made stops when they had to. Teams who try and convert fourth downs on the Soul are only successful 33.3 percent of the time.

"That's the good news,"Dolezel said "We haven't been making those plays, but we're still right in ball games. When we start making those plays, then maybe we'll start putting some points on the board and beating teams by more than just a couple scores."

Kizer was told that due to the Soul's low number in the interceptions category, teams may want to attack them in the air from start to finish. Forget those short dump passes. They'll go deep early and often.

"I like it," Kizer said. "The more the ball is in the air, the more chances we get to make plays. It benefits us. If they want to attack us in the air, tell them to bring it on."

Kizer asked, so the Soul just might receive. And the secondary unit may keep receiving those aerial attacks until they make plays consistently to stop it.

"Right now it's just it's just trusting in each other to make the play," Romain said. "Once that clicks, we're going to be good."

Soul hang on to top lowly Tampa Bay Storm, 56-51

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Soul hang on to top lowly Tampa Bay Storm, 56-51

It wasn't pretty, but the Soul got the job done.

Despite a late push from the stumbling Storm (1-12), the Soul were able to pull out a 56-51 in Tampa Bay on Saturday. 

“Tonight was not one of our strongest nights,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said.  “We made many mistakes offensively that we will need to fix heading in to our second bye week.  Playoffs are around the corner and our focus needs to shift in order to prepare for a strong postseason run.” 

The win puts the Soul at 12-3 with one game remaining in the regular season. 

Dan Raudabaugh completed 21 of 34 passes for 238 yards and six touchdowns in the win. Reciever Chris Duvalt led the team with six receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown, but was outdone by Daruius Reynolds, who took home Under Armour Offensive Player of the Game honors, scoring three touchdowns, giving him 100 career receiving touchdowns. 

The Soul go into their second bye week with 12 wins on the season, giving them the American Conference lead over the Orlando Predators, who sit at 11-2.

The two heavyweights face off in the season finale on Saturday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m. The Soul took the first matchup between the two, 62-54 on May 21, but the Predators have been hot lately, winning four straight games.

Soul top Gladiators, 83-62, with season-high scoring outburst

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Soul top Gladiators, 83-62, with season-high scoring outburst

Unable to play at the Wells Fargo Center, the Philadelphia Soul felt right at home in the PPL Center on Saturday night.

The Soul easily topped the Cleveland Gladiators, 83-62, with their highest scoring output of the season. Per usual, quaterback Dan Raudabaugh led the way by completing 20-of-21 passes for 335 yards and eight touchdowns, the last of which was the 600th TD pass of his career.

Raudabaugh had plenty of help from his receivers. Sean Kauleinamoku had six receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns while Darius Reynolds had four catches, 77 yards and three touchdowns. Reynolds also returned an onside kick for a touchdown.

The Soul move to 11-3 and stay within a game of the first-place Orlando Predators in the American Conference. The Gladiators fall to 7-6, good enough for second place in the National Conference. 

The Soul have two games left on the season as they try and take over first place before the postseason. They fly to Tampa bay to face the Storm next Saturday, take a week off, and then face the Predators in Orlando to finish the regular season on July 30. 

Soul use dominant second half to beat Steel

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Soul use dominant second half to beat Steel

The Soul shook off the lowly Portland Steel on Monday night for a 59-38 road win at the Moda Center.

After trailing 31-28 at halftime, the Soul (10-3) took full control in the second half to beat the Steel (1-11) for their third win in the last four games.

“We started off slow and made some mistakes in the first half,” Soul head coach Clint Dolezel said. “Once we came back out for the second half, the team played strong on both sides of the ball. Big plays on defense and turnovers help set our offense up for success and that is what we did tonight.”  

Soul wide receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku had a big game with nine receptions for 125 yards and two touchdowns, while wideout Ryan McDaniel and fullback Jeramie Richardson also added a pair of scores.

Soul quarterback Dan Raudabaugh threw for 217 yards and five touchdowns.

The Soul are on bye next week before hosting the Cleveland Gladiators at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on July 9 for a 6 p.m. kickoff.