For now, the strut is gone. A pair of road losses in the past three weeks has sapped the Augusta Stallions of their confidence.
Augusta (7-2) hopes to regain its swagger at Pensacola (4-5) tonight.
"We need to get our confidence back," defensive specialist Maurice Blanding said. "I think this week will be the week. They're a pretty decent team. Every team we play from now on to the end of the season is going to be good and going to be gunning for us. But we're going to have to get that win and get that confidence back."
Confidence was not a problem as the team opened the season with six straight wins. Losses at Norfolk and Carolina have forced Augusta to revamp its lineup.
The Stallions signed speedy defensive specialist Nick Rawls this week.
With Rawls in the lineup, Augusta will try to retain a two-game lead over a surging Macon team in the Southeast Division. It won't be easy, though.
Pensacola has lost four games by nine points or less and is coming off a three-game road trip.
"They're a good football team. They're 4-5, but they've been in every game," Stallions coach Mike Hold said. "I'm just looking for a good solid game. Right now, we want to win. We want to get back on the winning track. Whatever we can do to do that is our game plan."
"The reason why Pensacola is so important is because they're the next team on the schedule," wide receiver/defensive back Clifton Shavers said. "Last week, we have to put that behind us. Last week is over with."
After sitting out last week's 42-37 loss at Carolina, starting quarterback Jermaine Alfred will return to action.
After tonight's game, Augusta will return home for its next two games. The Stallions will end the season with four home games and two contests on the road.
"You like playing at home," Hold said. "It's not fun playing on the road. But we're going to have to play Macon, which is getting better. We've got to play Richmond, which is 7-3. We've got to play Jacksonville, which had a down week last week but they're a solid football team. Thank goodness we have four of the next six, after this one, at home."
Who: Augusta Stallions (7-2) at Pensacola Barracudas (4-5)
What: Defensive specialist Nick Rawls in first game back as a Stallion.
Where: Pensacola Civic Center (8,118)
When: 8 p.m. EDT
Radio: WRDW (1630-AM)
Notes: After sitting out last week's 41-37 loss at Carolina, quarterback Jermaine Alfred (separated shoulder) returns to the helm.
The Stallions are on their second-longest road trip of the year. Only their trip to Fort Myers, Fla., was longer. Augusta returns home next week and will play four of its next six games at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center.
After a three straight games on the road, Pensacola returns home tonight. However, the Barracudas are just 1-3 in their arena.
Reach Chris Gay at (706) 868-1222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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