Week 4 saw the solidification of Kenji Bahar and Cole Kelley becoming the true leaders of their franchises, while also keeping their teams in the playoff hunt. Fans of the USFL also saw the debut of Stars Back Up QB Kevin Thomson who came into replace Case Cookus on the “4th and 12” attempt, while getting a more in-depth look at Terry Wilson with Kenji Bahar leaving the game for precautionary reasons.
Kevin Thomson made his 2023 USFL debut for the Philadelphia Stars playing in one snap for Bart Andrus’ Offense. Thompson came in to relieve Case Cookus who seemed to be suffering from a Right Hand/Arm injury after being sacked Six times by the Gamblers Defense. Thomson came in and threw One pass completing it for Eleven Yards however, was just short of converting the USFL’s “altered” onside kick. With Cookus’ still being plagued by injuries it may come down to Thomson or Vad Lee if Bart Andrus’ QB1 can’t go moving forward.
9. Terry Wilson Houston Gamblers Previous Ranking Unranked
Stats: 2/3 21 Passing Yards 9 Rushing Attempts 49 Rushing Yards 1 Fumble
Wilson got an extended look after Bahar was taken out of the game for precautionary reasons. Wilson’s elite rushing ability has become another weapon in the Gamblers offense who are quickly becoming one of the league’s more dominating units. Wilson’s only mistake came on a fumble that ultimately took a Gamblers bounce that led to a Houston Touchdown.
8. Josh Love Michigan Panthers Previous Ranking #9
Stats: 10/15 58 Passing Yards 1 TD 1 INT 4 Rushing Attempts 3 Rushing Yards 1 Fumble
Two consecutive subpar performances have Love in the back half of the Week’s Quarterback Rankings. Love was limited to dump offs and didn’t have luxury of pushing the ball down the field. Due to the Showboats lack of success defending the run, the Panthers did opt for more aggressive rushing attack however, Love’s struggles may lead the team to turn to a young signal caller from Nevada.
8. Case Cookus Philadelphia Stars Previous Ranking #6
Stats: 24/38 189 Passing Yard 1 TD 1 INT 2 Rushing Attempts 16 Rushing Yards
Cookus maybe one of the hardest Quarterbacks to fairly judge in Week 4 as the former NAU QB has been plagued by inadequate Offensive Line play which has not allowed him to build from his 2022 performance. Cookus was constantly under pressure, and has continued to take a beating behind an Offensive Line that misses Alex Akingbulu and Gunnar Vogel from the 2022 season. While Cookus also looks to be dealing with injuries as well, the Stars regression overall as a team has clearly made their hopes of returning to the USFL championship extremely dull, going into week 5.
7. Carson Strong Michigan Panthers Previous Ranking #7
Stats: 9/12 76 Passing Yards 0 TD 1 INT 0 Rushing Attempts 0 Rushing Yards
Strong once again delivered a spark for Michigan whose Offense looked extremely flat for most of the game. If not for an ill-advised Touchdown in the endzone, Strong’s ranking would probably be a bit higher. However, while the Panthers offensive output was less than desirable strong was able to move around a bit rolling out with ease, possibly quieting some critics that may have had issues with the health of his knee. Moving forward for the Panthers, after two straight losses it’s quite possible we more of Strong in the coming weeks.
6. Troy Williams Pittsburgh Maulers Previous Rankings #8
Stats: 21/33 217 Passing Yards 0 TD 0 INT 7 Rushing Attempts 63 Rushing Yards 1 TD
The addition of All-USFL Offensive Tackle Terry Poole, has benefitted Williams tremendously over the past two weeks. While the right side of the Maulers Offensive Line is still suspect Poole’s, presence has allowed a bit more stability for Williams to grow as a passer over the past two weeks. While it does appear Williams does relay on his rushing ability maybe a bit too often he’s made the Maulers a much more watchable team in 2023, compared to their inaugural predecessors.
5. DeAndre Johnson New Jersey Generals Previous Ranking #5
Stats: 7/14 113 Passing Yards 1 TD 0 INT 5 Rushing Attempts 38 Rushing Yards 1 Fumble
Johnson’s Stat Line took a bit of a hit due to 3 drops by his receivers, however since becoming the full-time QB1 Johnson has been able to get comfortable in the Offense and showcase his development as a pocket passer. Despite his week 4 loss, the former “Last Chance U” star coupled with his bash brothers Trey Williams and Darius Victor, seems able to remain competitive to take advantage of a struggling North Division.
4. Cole Kelley Memphis Showboats Previous Ranking #4
Stats:15/26 151 Passing Yards 0 TD 0 INT 6 Rushing Attempts 27 Rushing Yards 2 TDs
While not as dynamic as last week’s passing attack, Kelley utilized his legs in week 4 to give the Showboats their first win of the season. Kelley was able to muscle his way to Two Touchdowns on the ground, building off the momentum from his 1st start in week 3. For Kelley while improvement as a passer is the next phase of his game, right now he continues to prove he’s the Showboats best option moving forward in the 2023 season.
3. Alex McGough Birmingham Stallions Previous Ranking #2
Stats: 17/29 157 Passing Yards 1 TD 2 INTs 10 Rushing Attempts 48 Rushing Yards 1 TD
Even on an “off” day McGough still managed to put together a highlight reel filled performance. While McGough missed several throws, that could of ended in points for the Stallions his dynamic playmaking ability with his legs is what kept in the Top-3 of USFL QBs in week 4 going into week 5. While it wasn’t the prettiest performance, McGough who at this point in his career is a 6-year professional gutted his way to a win for the Birmingham Stallions keeping just a game behind the New Orleans Breakers.
2. Kenji Bahar Houston Gamblers Previous Ranking #3
Stats: 15/21 230 Passing Yards 2 TDs 0 INT 2 Rushing Attempts 2 Rushing Yards 1 Fumble
Through Seven professional starts, Bahar continues to improve and give the Gamblers a competitive edge for a South Division playoff berth in 2023. The Monmouth University Alum has become a budding star in the USFL, and quickly becoming one of the USFL’s Top Quarterbacks. For Bahar the return of Mark Thompson and the emergence of Terry Wilson as a change of pace Quarterback has allowed Bahar to focus completely on his development as a passer prompting him to rebound after two initial turnover loaded performances to start off the 2023 season.
1. McLeod Bethel-Thompson New Orleans Breakers Previous Ranking #1
Stats: 26/37 279 Passing Yards 0 TD 1 INT 2 Rushing Attempts 10 Rushing Yards 1 Fumble
Despite two turnovers, MBT was able to manage through his struggles and continue New Orleans dominance of the USFL. The Breakers came out a completely different team in the 2nd half with MBT being able to utilize his Receiving Corps and Wes Hills through the air to give New Orleans the victory in week 4. The former CFL star, has been the USFL’s most consistent passer through 4 weeks of the USFL season allowing New Orleans to be the league’s top team in 2023. With his 279 Yard performance MBT also became the first QB in the USFL to cross the 1,000 Yard threshold putting him on pace for 2,790 yards for the season.