After suffering their first defeat of the season to the New Jersey Generals, the Panthers remain at home to take on the winless Memphis Showboats. The Panthers who saw their first bit of regression as an offense, did receive a bit of a “spark” with Carson Strong finding Trey Quinn for his first professional touchdown of his career. With Panthers seeing back-to-back weeks of Josh Love struggling it is possible Offensive Coordinator may lean on the young Nevada Alum, to put Michigan back in the win column.
Line: Panthers -6.5, O/U, 44.5 per Odds by FOXBET +205 Showboats, -278 Panthers
Date/Location: Saturday, May 6th, 2023, at Ford Field Detroit, Michigan
Kickoff Time: 7:30 PM EST
Weather Forecast: N/A
TV/Streaming: NBC/Fox Peacock App
As reported earlier this week Denzel Okafor and Devin Ross were both placed on the Panthers Injured Reserve List. The team signed SE Oklahoma State OT James Walker to fill the roster spot left vacant by Okafor. The Panthers also have Marcus Simms, and Cole Hikutini, as “Questionable” which may lead to heavier workload for Tight End Kyle Markway and Marcus Baugh. The Panthers have placed Simms and Hikutini on the inactive roster for Week 4.
In addition to signing Walker, the Panthers have also elevated A.J. Richardson, Kyle Markway, and Whop Philyor for Week 4. All three players could be making their 2023 USFL debut for Eric Marty’s Offense against the Showboats. Special Teams/Reserve WR Marcus Simms and Standout Tight End Cole Hikutini will both be inactive against Memphis for the first time this season.
Keys to the Game:
We Are On A Cole:
Highly anticipated off-season Quarterback Cole Kelley is set to start his second consecutive game in 2023. After the Showboats seemingly moving on from the Brady White experience (who you may have heard attended Memphis), Kelley came in a delivered a much-needed spark to the underwhelming Showboats Offense. Kelley threw for over 300 yards in Week 3, including Two TDs and while leading the team in rushing. If Michigan is looking to “sink the ships” the first step is stopping Kelley who was a Kenji Bahar game winning drive from giving Memphis their first win of the season.
The Panthers imposed their will on opposing Quarterbacks by starting off the season with multi-sack games against their first two opponents. While the pass rush cooled a bit in Week 3, with Garrett Marino being obtaining the Panthers lone sack, Michigan needs to continue to dominate the Line of Scrimmage, and let the Panthers Defense to play to their strengths. With Panthers set to take on the 6’7 frame of Cole Kelley, Michigan’s front seven will have to “muscle up” after dealing with the shifty DeAndre Johnson in Week 3.
Bounce Back from Reggie Corbin:
The Showboats rank #7 in the USFL giving up 132.3 Rushing Yards per game through the first three weeks of the season. Memphis has given 397 rushing yards through the first three weeks of the season priming the 2022 All-USFL RB for another breakout game, in the early weeks of the USFL season. Corbin currently ranks 3rd in the USFL with 198 Rushing Yards and has opened his game up a bit more by becoming another option in the Panthers passing attack already eclipsing his receptions from 2022 through three games of the 2023 season.
The Panthers have the benefit of not being surprised by Cole Kelley and have the luxury of having a week of film on the 6’7 passer. In addition to a “lack of surprise” from Kelley, the Showboats have placed Alex Collins on the team’s Injured Reserve list for the remainder of the season giving Kerrith Whyte and Juwann Washington (2022 returnee) the opportunity to take the majority of snaps behind Kelley.
While the Panthers do have some injuries they are also dealing with, the core foundation of the team’s Offense and Defense remain relatively healthy through the first three weeks of the season. For Michigan the gameplan really comes down to 2nd-year QB and 4-Year Pro Football Veteran Josh Love and his ability to manage the offense. Love saw major regression in week 3, having several passes batted down and was even somewhat outplayed by Carson Strong in his quick cameo appearance that led to a Trey Quinn receiving touchdown.
While I do suspect both Defenses to play admirably, the Panthers front Seven, is dramatically better than the Gamblers, that saw Kelley pass for over 300 yards. Michigan’s pass rush should continue to make life difficult for Kelley, meaning the Panthers Offense will have to “cash in” on the opportunity given to them by Frank Ginda and company.
While I do believe the Panthers will come out victorious in week 4, I do predict an ugly win, that is spearhead by Reggie Corbin, rather than Josh Love. Ultimately the Panthers come out 24-10 in a game that appears much closer due to the Michigan essentially “playing with their food”.