It was no surprise when the then-newly named Carolina Cobras Head Coach Billy Back started to fill the roster with some of the top talent from the team he previously coached, the now defunct Wichita Falls Nighthawks. That talent included back-to-back IFL MVP quarterback Charles McCullum and Wide Receiver Jordan Jolly.
From there, Tyrell Goodman, Jermaine Jones, and Tyrone Laughinghouse, all of which are former Wichita Falls players, followed suit and have been signed by the Cobras. All these players were brought in on their proven track record of being able to produce under coach Back in the realm of indoor football.
But there is one big concern with bring in a championship-caliber group of indoor football players, because arenwand indoor football are not one in the same sport.
Of course, with that being said, there are many similarities at-a-glance between indoor football and arena football but many of the subtle differences lie in the way defenses are ran, and by virtue, the way the offenses deal with these different dynamics in defense.
For instance, the most obvious way these two sports differ are the ways the linebackers are utilized. While the Mac linebacker has the ability to rush at will, the Jack linebacker is restricted to an area behind the defensive line until the quarterback either passes the ball or steps out of the throwing pocket.
This difference will alter the look of the blitz schemes that the former IFL offensive players will face in the National Arena League, but neither this or other differences in play have the former nighthawk worried.
Wide receiver Jermaine Jones, who spend the last two years playing in the Indoor Football League expressed his confidence in the players shifting to arena football. “I don’t think it’ll be that big of a switch knowing some of the guys have been affiliated with other leagues before” Jones said. “I can tell you the guys we have coming in are ready, focused and ready to make a statement from the beginning“.
That sentiment was echoed by coach Back. “The challenges of playing in a new league with different rules isn’t much of our concern. We played in the arena style rule set in 2014 and 2015 and had the number one offense and near the top defenses as well.” he told Inside the Arena when asked about the change in play.
Even McCullum, the man that will be under center for Carolina, wasn’t sweating the format “Well it’s not a big deal. I’ve played arena before,” he said. McCullum had won it all for the Nashville Venom under Billy Back in 2014.
When asked about the defensive schemes they would face McCullum was able to reference the advantages of having played both indoor and arena football. “I feel indoor football is more competitive cause of the running game and the two high motion guys but as far as blitz it’s about the same”.
If anyone has any doubt about the Cobras being about to fully utilize their former indoor football players in an arena setting, coach Back is prepare to extinguish them. “What is challenging for us is the abundance of talent throughout this league and the quality of coaches that lead each team. We are excited for the chance to compete versus the giants of this NAL, Jacksonville, Columbus, Lehigh, Mass, and Maine. We competed and beat the giants of our previous league, snapped streaks no one thought could happen and won in hostile environments few have done. Getting to open up at home versus the defending champs will be a good test for us to see how we stack up in this league.”
As referenced by Back, the Cobras will face the reigning NAL champions, the Jacksonville Sharks on April 7 at home in Greensboro, NC.