The Philadelphia Stars continue to add to their roster this week. Having signed 3 free agents early in Week 7 preparations, they added QB KJ Costello to the fold on Friday. Costello was a highly regarded recruit out of high school and signed with the Stanford Cardinal. KJ played 3 years in the PAC-12 before becoming a grad-transfer. He took his talents to the SEC and Mississippi State under new Head Coach Mike Leach. He never did quite measure up to expectations while at Mississippi State and went undrafted in 2021. It seemed the air-raid offense wasn’t a great fit for him. The talent is there for him to challenge Cookus for the starting job once he learns the offense.
Returning from injury this week is star CB Channing Stribling. After missing the last 2 weeks of action, Stribling is a welcome addition to a blossoming secondary. Amani Dennis has stepped up in his absence and the tandem of DBs should make life difficult for Gamblers QB Clayton Thorson. Thorson leads the USFL in interceptions and is a juicy matchup for a ball hawk like Stribling.
Keys to Victory:
If the Stars hope to continue their winning streak they must get by one of the toughest defensive teams in the league. Houston has struggled to close out games all season. They are hands down one of the most talented teams top to bottom. Defensive Coordinator Tim Lewis has just not been able to rotate enough guys in and out to keep everybody fresh for the 4th quarter. The Gamblers offense is mostly to blame for this shortcoming however. Thorson seems to play his worst at the times his team needs him most. Philly can exploit that and find themselves secure in the 2nd seed of the playoffs with a win on Sunday.
- Keep the Gamblers Defense on the field.
- Uptempo offense. Limit the defense’s ability to substitute.
- Utilize motions with the TEs and RBs. Force LBs to move constantly and play in coverage.
- Vertical/ deep dig routes. Make the Safeties run to guard the deep ball.
- Establish the run. Keep pounding the interior of the defense.
- Quick passes with slot receivers and TEs. Maximize amount of plays called per drive.
- Get after the QB! Make Thorson uncomfortable with multiple blitz looks.
- Put him into situations where he has to react to pressure as opposed to read coverage.
- Keep an extra LB/S in the box to help contain the ever dangerous Mark Thompson.
- Keep Isaiah Zuber in front of the Safeties. Don’t get beat by speed.
- Special Teams– Pin the ball deep with every kick/punt. Gamblers kicker Nick Vogel is a difference maker. Don’t give up easy points.
With the inconsistent play of the Stars defense and running attack it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Houston get their second win of the season. The inability to close out games for the Gamblers and the resilient efforts of the Stars make it easy to buy in to a Philly win. This should be an exciting matchup regardless.
Houston-27 Philly-34 Final