New QB Sheffield provides Power with big boost

POWER

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In the pass-happy world of the Arena Football League, a team without a reliable quarterback is not necessarily doomed to failure. But, without one, success likely will be elusive.

It was a lesson the Power learned through the first third of its season as it stumbled to a 1-5 record against a schedule that featured several underwhelming opponents.

But, with a change at the game's most important position, the Power might have temporarily found a solution to its offensive woes.

With quarterback Steven Sheffield starting in place of Jordan Jefferson, the Power put up season-highs in passing yards (272) and points (53) in a road victory against divisional foe Philadelphia last Saturday.

"He's been around [the league] enough to know how to move a defensive back just with his eyes or pump fake a guy just to get him to move left or right," Power coach Derek Stingley said.

"The terminology was a little different, but that didn't matter in the end because the plays are the same no matter where you go."

In his first game since being moved off the refuse-to-report list, Sheffield completed 19 of 35 passes for 272 yards, six touchdowns and one interception as the Power was able to top its season scoring average by nearly 20 points.

While one game, albeit a win, is too small of a sample size to draw a conclusion, Sheffield's football pedigree suits the arena game well.

Along with having previous Arena Football League experience, Sheffield played in college at Texas Tech under Mike Leach, who is well-known for his pass-happy "air raid" offense.

Though Sheffield was not the primary starter in his four years with the Red Raiders, Texas Tech quarterbacks combined to average 677.75 pass attempts per season, which ranked them in the top five Division I-A teams each of those seasons.

Operating in that kind of a system was good preparation for Arena football, where no team runs the ball more than 27.2 percent of the time.

"That's arena football at its best, that style of offense that he ran at Texas Tech," Stingley said.

Likewise, it's not surprising that Jefferson struggled.

As a rookie, Jefferson already faced a difficult challenge, but it was compounded by the offense he often led at LSU.

In stark contrast to Texas Tech, Jefferson never had more than 296 pass attempts in any of his four seasons at LSU because of a more balanced offense.

While Jefferson has time to develop and Sheffield might not prove to be a permanent solution, the results last week might help to rejuvenate a lackluster season for the Power.

"I feel like it's a good jump start," wide receiver James Robinson said.

"Anytime you can make changes and get a win, the sky's the limit from there."

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Craig Meyer: cmeyer@post-gazette.com and Twitter @CraigMeyerPG.


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