LIVESTREAM Austria: Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants @ Dacia Vienna Vikings. Sept. 12, 16:00 CET (10:00 ET)

A humbled group of Dacia Vienna Vikings returned home, ready to build upon their 31-19 win over the Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants last week when the rematch kicks off at the Ravelin on Saturday

“There’s a lot to clean up as a whole group,” admits star import defensive back Andrew Spencer. “For myself, I definitely could’ve done more. I’m just getting my feet wet, just getting ready. There is a lot more to come.”

Last week it was the Vienna defense that took its team to victory in the first game of the Austrian title series. Despite giving up significant yardage through the air, the Vikings held Graz to just 19 points and scored six of their own when Leonel Misangumukini scooped up a fumble forced by Leon Balogh. The defensive line led the way with five sacks and the men in purple shut down the Giants three times on fourth down to get their offence back the ball.

“We allowed 19 points as a defence, that’s good but we can do better,” said defensive back Sebastian Wimmer. “The Giants will do their homework too. We have to be prepared and ready to take another step towards winning this Championship Series. “

Continuing to get pressure on fresh-faced import quarterback Hunter McEachern will be key to making that step a reality. In his first career European start, the Graz signal caller proved he could be dangerous when given time by throwing for 317 yards and two touchdowns.

Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants @ Dacia Vienna Vikings. Sept. 12, 16:00 CET (10:00 ET)

Vienna will also need to find a way to take receiver Florian Bierbaumer out of the equation. At 197 cm and 105 kg, the Giants pass catcher is a uniquely challenging target to cover and he proved it by going off in the first game for 214 yards and a touchdown.

“I think that was just the first game jitters for everyone,” says Spencer of the big plays allowed. “In Game 2, you should see some more flashes [on our side].”

Graz will need to make adjustments of their own. The team’s offensive line will need an improved performance in the face of the Vienna pass rush, while finding a way to impose their will in order to generate some movement on the ground. The Giants accumulated just 57 yards net rushing last week and generated an abysmal 2.9 yards per carry. A more balanced attack will go a long way to keeping Vienna on its toes and McEachern upright.

Highlights from Game 1

McEachern remains infectiously positive when discussing the challenge in front of his team.

“This week is another week to go play the game we love against a good football team,” he says. “I’m very honored to be a part of the Giants organization and can’t wait to show this team’s improvement from week one to week two!”

The Vikings had their own early offensive struggles. Quarterback Jadrian Clark was an efficient 65.5% passing for 198 yards and 3 scores, but there were stretches where the offense seemed to be operating on different wavelengths.

“In Graz, we needed a little time to find our attacking rhythm. That’s quite normal at the beginning of a season. We also have a new offense this year,” explained receiver Yannick Mayr. “We are using this week to prepare well in order to bring offensive pressure on the field from the moment the game starts.”

The Vikings possess a dynamic group of offensive weapons but none went over the century mark in either rushing or receiving. Top target Bernhard Seikovits had 70 yards receiving to lead the club, while David Schaaf had 51 yards and Mayr had 41. All three will need to be fed early and often for Vienna to live up to their potential, along with a healthy dose of the Wegan brothers in the backfield.

The Graz defense will also be seeking to improve its production. Import defensive linemen Blake Nelson and James King boast a combined 33 sacks and 78.5 tackles for loss in their NCAA careers, but only got to Clark once in their Austrian debut. A big performance from the Americans on the road will go a long way to keeping the Vikings out of sync. Most importantly, the team must cut down on the 85 yards worth of penalties that they gifted the opposition.

Graz head coach Martin Kopcian believes fans have yet to see his team’s best and that they have sky high potential for the rest of the series.

“I am looking forward to game 2 against the Vikings, because I want to see how much we are able to improve from game to game,” Kopcian admits. “Game 1 was one big unknown for us. We have a young new team, did not know much about our opponent and were also a little rusty after that long period without football, so in this game we should show more of our potential and that is exciting.”

Now that each side has seen the the other and probed their opponent’s defenses with the initial jabs of this title bout, the team that emerges triumphant will be the one that adjusts best. The Vikings will have home field advantage in game two of the Championship Series, but Graz has proved to be a tough team to beat.

How can the Vienna Vikings seize the rematch and take a decisive lead in their quest for an Austrian title? Andrew Spencer has a simple answer.

“Just do our jobs.”

Watch the game live here. Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants @ Dacia Vienna Vikings. Sept. 12, 16:00 CET (16:00 ET)

Dacia Vienna Vikings roster

Projekt Spielberg roster

 

JC Abbott
J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.
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