Week 1 of the USFL action demonstrated how much the offenses needed more time to gel. Early and often we saw miscues on both offense and special teams. However…defense, was a different story.
In week 1 of the USFL we saw relatively low scoring games with 28 the high for the week. With that being said many points were thanks to the defensive units putting on a show.
New Jersey Generals #4 VS Birmingham Stallions #6
Birmingham 28 – New Jersey 24
In game 1 we saw New Jersey fall to Birmingham despite the efforts of Shalom Luani who had 8 tackles, 1 for a loss, 1 interception, and 2 passes deflected. Also Deyon Sizer collected a sack of their way to a 28-24 loss.
Birmingham saw Tay Hayes and Demarquis Gates collect 20 tackles, 1 for a loss, 1 sack, 1 pass deflection. While other members of the roster contributed 2 more sacks, and 3 pass deflections. Ultimately we saw defense and special teams account for 14 points in three games.
Michigan Panthers #7 VS Houston Gamblers #5
Houston 17 – Michigan 12
In the Michigan and Houston game we saw the Houston defense step up in a big way. Ahmar Gooden lit up the opposing offense on his way to 9 tackles, 2 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. Reggie Northrup had a forced fumble, and a scoop and score that went 95 yards. Donald Payne fell just 1 short of 20 tackles, and tipped a pass flowing sideline to sideline like no other linebacker at this level so far. The Michigan offense fumbled 9 times.
On the other side of the field, Michigan’s defensive captain Frank Ginda racked up 10 tackles, .5 sacks, and 1 tackle for a loss. Jameson Houston intercepted an errant pass from Clayton Thorson.
New Orleans Breakers #3 VS Philadelphia Stars #1
New Orleans 23 – Philadelphia 17
In the New Orleans and Philadelphia game we watched as Davin Bellamy took over the game finding himself in the backfield more often than not. He had many dominant plays. However it was the interception return for a touchdown early in the game, a blocked punt for a safety, and a sack-fumble that ultimately sealed the game. If the Breakers defense can keep this up they will be a hard team to beat.
On the Philadelphia side it was Channer Stribling who was all over on defense with clutch pass deflections, key tackles, and big hits but his performance couldn’t stop New Orleans from hanging 28 on the board.
Tampa Bay Bandits #2 VS Pittsburgh Maulers #8
Tampa Bay 17 – Pittsburgh 3
Well Tampa Bay is already making their claim as the most well rounded team in the USFL by smothering the Maulers and holding them to just 3 points, while their offense moved the ball efficiently. Their kicking game even looked solid as well. On the defensive side of the ball they racked up 3 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss, and 2 pass deflections. Their strongest performers being; Travis Feeney, Zac Dawe, and Reggie Howard who all contributed 1 sack, and 2 tackles for a loss a piece.
Pittsburgh came out and ran the ball relentlessly on their first few drives. Then they realized that was not working, and they decided to start actually throwing the ball. While the offense sputtered, the defense intercepted Jordan Ta’amu twice, allowed just 2.1 yards per carry, and 5.8 yards per passing attempt. The stand outs on defense for the Maulers were LB Kyahva Tezino who collected 12 tackles, 2 for a loss, 1 interception, and 2 passes deflected. He was everywhere the ball was all night long. Arnold Tarpley III was also seen all over the field making plays. On his way to 8 tackles, 1 interception, and 2 pass deflections. The defense as a whole had 1 sack, 8 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions, and 7 pass deflections. Meaning 9 of Ta’amu’s 12 incomplete passes were forced by the defense.
The Maulers actually impressed me defensively in this game. I expected this to be a blow out, and I didn’t expect them to stop the Haley/Ta’amu offense. Yet they did, on several occasions. If the Maulers can get their passing game sorted out, they might actually surprise a few people including me this season.
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