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Bucs-Seahawks Pregame Report

Posted Nov 3, 2013

The Battle between Seattle’s top-ranked rushing attack and the Bucs’ strong run defense could set the tone early in Sunday’s game…Plus, Coach Schiano’s pregame thoughts and more

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Bucs bring the NFL’s eighth-ranked rush defense to Seattle to take on the league’s top running team
  • S Dashon Goldson and WR Chris Owusu were declared inactive for the game and Jamon Meredith will start at left guard
  • The Bucs believe they have prepared well to handle the infamous crowd noise generated at CenturyLink Field
Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Seattle Seahawks is a mismatch in the standings, but in at least one area it will pit strength against considerable strength.  The Seahawks boast the NFL’s top-ranked rushing attack, while the Buccaneers bring one of the NFL’s most stout run defensesto town.  Each side will be looking to impose its will, and the victor could grab control of the game early.

The Buccaneers rank eighth in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per game (94.6) as well as eighth in yards allowed per carry (3.8), a year after finishing first in both of those categories in 2012.  The Seahawks, led by RB Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch and supplemented by a quarterback who can run in Russell Wilson, are averaging 154.4 ground yards per game.  Seattle is one of only three teams in the NFL that has called more running plays than passing plays so far this season, and only San Francisco has run the ball on a higher percentage of plays than Seattle’s 51.3%.

“They’re very talented players,” said Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano.  “Russell Wilson is like another running back once he tucks the ball.  He’s 5-11, he’s thick, he’s strong – you’re really going to have to wrap up and tackle him.  Marshawn Lynch is one of the most physical and talented running backs in the National Football League.  He is a downhill runner, so we are really going to have to tackle well, and the scheme they run forces you to tackle those guys in space.”

The Bucs’ run defense has succeeded by plugging the middle with DTs Gerald McCoy and Akeem Spence and swarming to the football, led by do-everything LB Lavonte David.  However, one of the team’s hardest hitters on defense, S Dashon Goldson, will be out of that equation as he will miss his second straight game due to a knee injury.

- RB M. James warms up before Sunday's game, which will be his second NFL start
In fact, Tampa Bay’s list of seven game-day inactives is made up almost entirely of men who are unable to suit up on Sunday due to injuries.  In addition to Goldson, the Bucs will be without RB Doug Martin (shoulder), G Carl Nicks (foot), WR Chris Owusu (foot) and RB Jeff Demps (groin). The remaining inactive Buccaneers are CB Deveron Carr and G Patrick Omameh.  Jamon Meredith will start in Nicks’ place, becoming the fifth different player to open a game at left guard this season.  Second-year man Keith Tandy will take over for Goldson at free safety.

In addition to that list, the Buccaneers are also heading into Week Nine, and the rest of the season, without their #2 receiver, Mike Williams.  Williams landed on injured reserve this week due to a hamstring tear that has limited him for most of the season.  With Martin still trying to recover from a significant shoulder injury, the Buccaneers’ offensive skill positions consist of Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson and a host of young players still trying to make their marks in the NFL.

What that means is an opportunity for the likes of wide receivers Skye Dawson and Eric Page, and another start for promising rookie RB Mike JamesTiquan Underwood will step up into Williams’ starting spot, but the Bucs are likely to employ a variety of specific packages to utilize the mostly unexplored talents of their young pass-catchers.

“We know what the challenge is without Doug Martin, without Mike Williams,” said Schiano.  “Chris Owusu is not going to be able to play.  There are some key skill guys who are not going to be involved in the game, and that’s when a guy like Dawson or Page steps up.  That’s when a guy like Mike James steps up.  We have full confidence in them and we’re looking forward to seeing them play today.”

It will be the job of rookie QB Mike Glennon to distribute the football among this cast, and he has shown an ability to spread the opportunities around during his first four NFL starts.  Glennon has targeted Jackson quite frequently – and to very good success – but he’s also found ways to get Page, Dawson, James, TE Tim Wright and TE Tom Crabtree involved.  Facing an enormously talented Seattle secondary that is likely to have its eyes on Jackson at all time, Glennon will likely need to find those young Bucs again on Sunday.

And he’ll have to do it with the sonic backdrop of the NFL’s loudest stadium.  The crowd noise at CenturyLink Field routinely nudges north of 130 decibels, and that makes play-calling and offensive management quite difficult.  The Buccaneers turned their own practice-field speakers up as high as ever this week, but it will still be a challenge to overcome Seattle’s 12th Man.

“I think it might be the loudest stadium indoor or outdoor, believe it or not, which is a testament to their fans,” said Schiano.  “But we’ve prepared, as much as you can.  We work with noise all the time, but we amped it up a little bit this week.  I think we’re prepared for it, although until you get in it… Other than the noise, it’s those guys across from you that can give you problems.

“Really, the receivers don’t rely on verbal [communication] that much anyway.  It’s the interior people that have to get the message.  If you’ve been down on the field, you know – you could be standing right next to a guy and you have to scream for him to be able to hear you, and part of it is seeing his lips, whether it’s in the huddle on third down when the crowd’s going crazy or it’s on the line of scrimmage.  So you avoid doing a lot of two-play checks and things like that, and if you do them they have to be non-verbal communication.”

Seattle had no pregame changes to its lineups, as none of its seven inactive players were starters.  Those inactives are QB B.J. Daniels, S Jeron Johnson, RB Christine Michael, FB Derrick Coleman, T Breno Giacomini, T Caylin Hauptmann and DE Benson Mayowa.  Johnson, Coleman and Giacomini were out due to injury.

The Buccaneers and Seahawks will kick off their Week Nine matchup at CenturyLink Field at 4:00 p.m. ET, and the game will be carried on television by Fox.  The action will also be broadcast by the Buccaneers Radio Network and its flagship station, US 103.5 FM.  That radio broadcast will be available via a live stream on Buccaneers.com.  Visit Buccaneers.com throughout the day to for further reports on the game action, including coverage of the team’s postgame press conferences.

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