The Nate Davis trade shocked the Indoor Football world last week when the Duke City Gladiators dealt the veteran signal-caller to the San Diego Strike Force for QBs Demry Croft and Aaron Aiken, along with pass rusher Jeremiah Caine.
The quarterback transition for the Gladiators was rough as Duke City lost 50-26 to the Vegas Knight Hawks last night. Of course, it will take time for both quarterbacks to become comfortable with the Gladiators’ scheme, but Aaron Aiken brings plenty of intrigue to the Gladiators’ offense.
Aiken is a former receiver and quarterback out of Georgetown and Coastal Carolina. While playing for the Hoyas, Aiken started four games at quarterback and came off the bench for three more while also catching three passes for 18 yards. After transferring to Coastal Carolina, Aiken was used exclusively as a short-yardage quarterback rushing 16 times for 32 yards and two touchdowns. Here he is taking a wildcat snap for a touchdown for Coastal Carolina in their 2014 game against The Citadel:
The Gladiators used Aiken extensively in the run game on Friday night. Aiken was effective running QB power out of the shotgun and the Gladiators may want to consider a ball-control-focused scheme after struggling in the passing game last night. The Gladiators completed four of their 14 passes for 19 yards, yes, 19 yards (well, 11 yards if you count the eight yards they lost on a sack).
The run game was much more effective, gaining 73 yards on 21 carries per IFL statistics. Tim Whitfield gained 53 yards on nine carries and Aaron Aiken gained 12 yards on five designed runs and scored a pair of touchdowns. Whitfield showed signs of explosiveness with a long run of 18 yards on the night. The Gladiators’ backfield looks like their strength and until their passing game develops under their new quarterbacks, they should have a ball-control-centered approach.
Compared to Demry Croft, the other acquisition in the Davis trade, Aiken is the bigger quarterback. This allows for the Gladiators to potentially run two-QB formations where they can either get Croft on the edge with a speed option or run up the middle with Aiken. Aiken’s experience catching passes can give the Gladiators more creativity in a two-QB formation.
Aiken and Croft give the Gladiators room for creativity and this creativity may be what the Gladiators need to put more points on the board and rest their defense until the passing game is up to speed. How the Gladiators decide to use Aaron Aiken may be one of the key aspects of their season.