Dubai Barracudas' defensive effort provides platform for 15-0 win over Abu Dhabi Wildcats
Neither the Dubai Barracudas nor the Abu Dhabi Wildcats looked like the finished article in the Emirates American Football League (EAFL) season opener.
Both teams were without key contributors in the Barracudas’ 15-0 win at Dubai Sports City on Saturday.
In the Barracudas’ case, however, the players on the field filled the void left by the ones off it as the defence surrendered just 32 yards in total, sacked Abu Dhabi quarterback Perry Blackburn five times and forced three turnovers – all without last year’s EAFL Defensive MVP Alex Rodriguez.
The dominant defensive effort afforded Dubai quarterback Zavier Cobb and his unit more room for error.
“There’s a saying I’ve learned in football, ‘offence wins games, defence wins championships’. Today, the defence played like champions,” Cobb said.
Cobb was operating without his top target from last season, wide receiver and kicker Michael Andersen. In his place, Suliman Gaouda stepped up to grab a 30-yard bomb before booting a 28-yard field goal.
Though the Barracudas’ vertical attack broke off large chunks of yardage on several players, the damage could have been more if not for dropped passes and miscommunication.
“We’ve got to get more in sync with one another,” Dubai coach Kyle Jordan said.
“We’re also running a little bit of a different system, offensively speaking, and we’re missing some players we’re used to having out there.
“When we don’t have the guys that were here last year that were our consistent starters, you have to break in new starters.”
The Wildcats, meanwhile, couldn’t overcome their wide-spread absences, which included star running back Vivaldi Tulysse.
Without their playmaker in the backfield, the offence sputtered out of the gates and never recovered. Injuries on the offensive line only exasperated the problem.
“I had to put a back-up quarterback on the offensive line and that just almost never happens,” said coach Tony Robinson, also making a coaching debut in the UAE. “We had a lot of people play out of position and were just short some numbers at some key positions.”