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USFL Week 2 Quarterback Rankings: Cookus Shines, While Josh Love Dominates

The USFL season has finally begun and fans saw some of the most exciting and electrifying Quarterback play in recent memory spanning over the past several Alt-Football seasons. Fans got to experience the resurgence of Josh Love, the Star-studded demeaner of Case Cookus, and the glorious but sometimes frustrating play of CFL Star McLeod Bethel-Thompson who made his first regular season appearance in America since the United Football League. For fans of the USFL infatuated with great Quarterback remember this is just the beginning.

13. Troy Williams Pittsburgh Maulers Previous Ranking Unranked

Stats: 4/12 23 Passing Yards 0 TDs 0 INTs 1 Rushing Attempt 7 Rushing Yards

Williams was one of many Quarterbacks to make his professional debut this weekend for the USFL. Williams platooned with James Morgan during week 1 for the Maulers and at times seemed overwhelmed by the Breakers defense. Whether it’s Morgan or Williams consistency is needed for any Maulers Quarterbacks to succeed in 2023.

12. James Morgan Pittsburgh Maulers Previous Ranking #10

Stats: 6/15 58 Passing Yards 0 TDs 0 INTs 1 Rushing Attempt 5 Rushing Yards

Like Williams, Morgan had a hard time getting comfortable due to lack consistency from getting comfortable in the Maulers Offensive system. With Coach Tomlinson in control of the offense for a second season, the Maulers OC needs to find a way to allow Williams or Morgan to be comfortable and take advantage of Receivers like Bailey Gaither and Tre Walker.

11. Cole Kelley Memphis Showboats Previous Ranking #9

Stats: 2/5 16 Passing Yards 0 TDs 0 INTs 0 Rushing Attempts 0 Rushing Yards

Cole Kelley fans got to see a quick cameo of 6’7 signal caller. Kelley had a limited impact during his teams loss against the Stars, however like many quarterbacks looked as if he was getting his under him in his first pro appearance. Though not a profound or lasting impression Kelley managed to complete a couple passes, and not turn the ball over earning “live” reps against the Stars electrifying defense.

10. Kenji Bahar Houston Gamblers Previous Ranking #11

Stats: 13/22 109 Passing Yards 0 TD 2 INTs 2 Rushing Attempts 16 Rushing Yards 2 Fumbles

Bahar has got the keys to the Gamblers Ferrari this season, and boy is that engine sputtering. Despite the Gamblers leaning on the ground game, the Gamblers offensive Line had issues dealing with the Panthers revamped Defensive Line led by Breeland Speaks. Bahar seemed under pressure on each pass attempt and appeared to not be able to fully read the whole field. With the Gamblers set to take on the New Orleans Breakers in week 2, Bahar is now tasked with facing another dynamic defense that held the Maulers to 81 Passing Yards in week 1.

9. Carson Strong Michigan Panthers Previous Ranking #5

Stats: 5/5 34 Passing Yard 0 TD 0 INT 0 Rushing Attempts 0 Rushing Yards 1 Fumble

Strong like Kelley, had a cup of tea in week 1, getting the luxury of sitting behind Josh Love for a couple series before making his pro debut. After a slow start that saw a failed 3rd down conversion and a fumble Strong settled into Eric Marty’s offense getting a couple first downs before Josh Love retook the field in the 2nd half. Overall, for Strong a nice cameo for the highly touted signee out of Nevada.

8. DeAndre Johnson New Jersey Generals Previous Ranking #4

Stats: 4/13 29 Passing Yards 0 TD 0 INT 7 Rushing Attempts 45 Rushing Yards

Johnson struggled, no doubt about it. One of my biggest fears for Johnson coming into 2023 was the over exposure he would face regarding his ability to pass the ball. In 2022, Johnson completed over 70% of his passes yet only threw the ball 75 times. With the Generals in 2023 now lacking the even-keeled presence of Luis Perez, the pressure maybe a bit more prevalent on Johnson with Michigan Panthers looking more competitive in season 2.

7. Brady White Memphis Showboats Previous Ranking unranked

Stats: 16/29 182 Passing Yards 2 TDs 1 INTs 4 Rushing Attempts 29 Rushing Yards

White made his 2023 debut, playing in the same stadium as he did in during his days with the Memphis Tigers. While White did show flashes of “brilliance”, the 3rd year pro (1 TSL, 2 USFL) was not able to keep up with the Philadelphia Stars, led by MVP candidate Case Cookus. While White did managed show more athleticism than what most in Memphis were expecting, his slow start that resulted in a Channing Stribling interception was ultimately the difference in the game.

6. Dakota Prukop New Jersey Generals Previous Ranking #14

Stats: 13/17 148 Passing Yards 0 TD 0 INT 4 Rushing Attempts 12 Rushing Yards 1 TD 1 Fumble

Prukop made his first professional appearance in the United States since coming out of Oregon. Mainly used as a rushing Quarterback in the CFL, Prukop showed good mobility and was able to connect with WR Cameron Echols-Luper and TE Braedon Bowman to keep the Generals Offense competitive. With DeAndre Johnson seemingly ineffective in the passing attack, look for Prukop to possible lead Mike Riley’s offense moving forward in the USFL season.

5. J’Mar Smith Birmingham Stallions Previous Ranking #2

Stats: 10/15 160 Passing Yards 1 TD 1 INT 2 Rushing Attempts 1 Rushing Yard 1 Fumble

Smith started off hot finding Austin Watkins for a 61-Yard bomb on the Stallions first possession. Other than an interception on a throw away that didn’t travel far enough out of bounds, Smith continued to manufacture another solid output for the Stallions as they defend their USFL title. Smith was removed from the game due to an injury, on his non-throwing hand per Luke Miller, his replacement Alex McGough had a pretty good game as well.

4. Alex McGough Birmingham Stallions Previous Ranking #6

Stats: 7/11 68 Passing Yards 1 TD 0 INT 6 Rushing Attempts 51 Rushing Yards 1 TD

The closer as it appears McGough has become accustomed to doing in his Stallions career, the six-year pro once again came off the bench in relief and put together another strong performance for the Stallions in their 27-10 win against the Generals. McGough who many consider starting caliber Quarterback in the USFL continues to shine when given the opportunity dating back to last season going 3-0 as a starter in 2022. For McGough the key to success has become pretty routine at this point, utilize your athleticism and work off the read option in order to find the endzone.

3. McLeod Bethel-Thompson New Orleans Breakers Previous Ranking #3

Stats: 23/41 302 Passing Yards 1 TD 0 INT 4 Rushing Attempts 16 Rushing Yards

In front of his Wife and Daughter, MBT put on a show in his return to the United States. It was a bit of a slow started for the Breakers Offense however, MBT continued to battle until eventually the passing attack began to click. The former CFL star linked up with former Stallions TE Sage Surratt for 85 Receiving Yards, enroute to 318-yard performance.

2. Josh Love Michigan Panthers Previous Ranking #8

Stats: 19/21 216 Passing Yards 3 TDs 0 INT 4 Rushing Attempts 0 Rushing Yards

No other Quarterbacks in the USFL showed as much improvement as Josh Love did from 2022 to 2023. An afterthought in the Maulers dysfunctional offense, Josh Love joined Eric Marty and the Panthers in May of 2022, and has finally been able to find some stability in the USFL. Love looked extremely poised and did a great job getting rid of the ball quickly against the Gamblers. Love and the Panthers were able to attack the seams continuously during week 1, utilizing the trio of Marcus Baugh, Trey Quinn and Joe Walker enroute to Michigan’s dominate victory against Houston. Not a bad record setting performance for Love to open the year up.

1. Case Cookus Philadelphia Stars Previous Ranking #1

Stats: 20/29 212 Passing Yards 3 TDs 0 INT 7 Rushing Attempts 31 Rushing Yards

The #1 Quarterback in our Preseason rankings continues to show the world why he’s the best QB in the USFL. After a stint with the Rams, and another year in Bart Andrus’ system, Case Cookus made it look almost too easy in week 1. In addition to dominating through the air, Cookus also put a lot of naysayers to bed regarding his leg injury as the NAU led the Stars in rushing adding another 31 on the ground.

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Pat Rifino is a former Security Contractor turned writer. He began his writing career talking about geo-politics, and the defense industry. Now Pat writes about alt-league football, while hanging out with his dogs in his off time.

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