In a league of quick throws, VooDoo defensive lineman Mike Alston is finding a way to get to quarterbacks.
Faster than a three-step drop and pitch.
Alston enters Monday’s 7:30 p.m. game against the Pittsburgh Power (12-3) at the Smoothie King Center with 91/2 sacks, a franchise record. It’s also his career high.
Consider his accomplishment one of few bright spots on an otherwise disappointing season for the VooDoo (2-12), losers of their last six games.
Alston and the VooDoo defense will try to stop Pittsburgh quarterback Tommy Grady, who leads the Arena Football League in passing with 3,975 yards. He has also thrown the most passes in the AFL and is second overall with 95 touchdowns. Receiver Shaun Kauleinamoku is 10th overall with 1,169 yards. Kauleinamoku also has 107 receptions and 17 TDs.
Based on his output and effort, you might think Alston, a fifth-year pro, is aiming for a playoff spot.
“That’s just my character,” he said. “As a leader, I really want to go out and lead by example. I try to go out every single play and finish the game so that everybody can take on that same personality.”
His sack total is tied for fifth in the Arena Football League, despite Alston playing in just 10 games, an effort to maintain his health throughout the season, he said. Meanwhile, league leaders James Ruffin (Spokane Shock) and Beau Bell (L.A. Kiss) have 121/2 sacks.
If you compare the AFL to traditional, outdoor football offenses allow quarterbacks to enjoy an extra second, even more to release passes. That allows longer windows of sack opportunities.
Alston has to get to guys that have one, two, perhaps three-step drops then throw.
“So the ball is getting away really fast,” he said. “So to be able to be to the ball is a pretty good thing to do.”
Alston, who played college football at Toledo, has played for the Chicago Rush (2010), Spokane Shock (2011-12) and Toledo Blaze (2013).