The final road to USFL 2023 is set to begin as all eight league teams, like the New Jersey Generals, start training camp officially on Monday, March 20th. Less than a month before the regular season kicks off.
USFL 2023 Training Camp
USFL teams are entering camp at a mandatory number of 58 players—an improvement from last year’s bare-boned number of 45. Teams will be cutting down their rosters to 50 before the season starts. Forty players will be on the weekly active roster, with ten on the inactive list. Setting aside injuries or potential additions/subtractions during camp, 64 players will be released at cut time, eight per team.
The benefit to a team like the New Jersey Generals is despite some defections from their team to other leagues. They are bringing back a lot of critical coaches and players for season two of the new USFL.
Each USFL roster has seen plenty of change. Players found new homes in the NFL and XFL. Some of the league’s starting quarterbacks in 2022 will not be back. (Luis Perez, Kyle Sloter, Paxton Lynch).
However, change can be a good thing. But what benefits the Generals in USFL 2023 is that they are returning 2022 coach of the year Mike Riley and the majority of his staff from a year ago. In contrast, half the league’s head coaches from a year ago and several team assistants have departed the USFL.
In a second-year pro league, continuity can be kingly. The 9-1 North division champion Generals have that in their favor heading into camp.
New Jersey Generals 2023 Coaching Staff
The Ohio-bound New Jersey Generals have a new playing home in 2023. But very little about their coaching staff has changed. Steve Smith returns with his smashmouth style from a year ago, coordinating the offense and upfront.
Like a year ago, USFL assistant coaches will be wearing many hats, overseeing multiple areas of the team.
The most significant coaching addition for N.J. is grizzled veteran coach Ted Cottrell, who replaces current Vegas Vipers defensive coordinator Cris Dishman from a year ago. Assistant coach Bob Diaco, who contributed to the defense and special teams, left the team for an analyst position with LSU.
A year ago, New Jersey took a coaching committee approach to special teams and will exact the same structure in 2023. Steve Hagan, Antonio Banks, Sheldon Dawson, and Dezmon Walker will oversee that unit.
The new lieutenant on defense, Ted Cottrell, brings a world of experience to the Generals. The 75-year-old Pennsylvania native has been coaching for five decades. Cottrell started his coaching career at Rutgers and was, once upon a time, a defensive assistant for the New Jersey Generals back in 1984/1985. It’s all coming full circle for the veteran coach, who is no stranger to alternative pro football leagues, having coached in the OG USFL, the United Football League, the AAF, XFL, and The Spring League.
Cottrell has been a 3-4 defensive teacher for most of his career. Coaching both the defensive line and linebacker positions. However, he has coordinated 4-3 defenses in the past. Like his time working under Herman Edwards with the New York Jets two decades ago. Seeing what type of system he deploys with New Jersey’s defensive talent will be interesting. Cottrell will also be coaching the team’s linebackers, and New Jersey boasts two of the best linebackers in the USFL, Chris Orr and D’Juan Hines.
2023 New Jersey Generals TV Schedule
If you are looking for the New Jersey Generals on over-the-air network television. They won’t be hard to find in 2023. Eight of the Generals’ ten regular season games will be on FOX (5) and NBC (3), including an exciting Week 1 rematch from last year’s opening game with the USFL 2022 champion Birmingham Stallions. It’s only one of two prime-time games for the Generals this season, with the other coming in Week 9 against the Stars.
The USFL favorably streamlined its TV schedule from a year ago. All games will take place on weekends. Saturday/Sunday. There will be more travel for the Generals this coming season than a year ago, with them marching to Michigan, Alabama, and Tennessee for games. But the steady weekend slate eliminates odd or short work weeks.
USFL 2023 Adding Some Canadian Flavor
New Jersey won’t be home in Ohio until they play the New Orleans Breakers in week four. That game could have a unique Canadian Football flavor beyond Mike Riley’s experience as a two-time Grey Cup championship coach.
The Breakers’ big signing this offseason was that of CFL All-Star QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The journeyman signal-caller, who is coming off his best season north of the border with the Toronto Argonauts, is returning home. MBT led the Canadian Football League in passing and rides off as a Grey Cup champ. He could be squaring off with the Generals’ latest addition at QB, now former Winnipeg Blue Bombers pivot Dakota Prukop.
The 29-year-old American Prukop finally returns to the United States after playing in Canada for the first six seasons of his pro career. The 6’1 208lb signal-caller played in 61 games up north as mostly a backup/change of pace runner. It’s been a while since he has been able to shine as a starter. Back in 2015, Dakota was a first-team All-FCS QB who amassed over 4,000 yards, passing and rushing, with 39 touchdowns in 11 games.
New Jersey Generals QB Trio
Seeing how the Generals’ QB situation shapes up in camp will be interesting.
After all, carrying three active quarterbacks on a 40-player roster could be a challenging task. The assumption is that DeAndre Johnson will be in line to start games again after he got Wally Pipped (extremely dated reference) last season due to injury.
Mike Riley will likely deploy a two-QB system again this coming season. New Jersey has veteran QB Kyle Lauletta, a late-season pick-up off waivers last May from the Pittsburgh Maulers, and he is the more traditional pocket passer of this group. Prukop, who nearly rushed for 1,000 yards in a single collegiate season, could make for an interesting running tandem with Johnson during games.
The Generals might not be done adding players. But they have to adhere to the league’s strict 58-player rule. During the offseason, New Jersey got in trouble and was penalized for playing loose with the league’s roster rules.
GM Billy Devaney and Mike Riley could be on the lookout for the next KaVontae Turpin in camp. The team has signed veteran De’Mornay Pierson El and others to fill the gaping hole from the league MVP and 2022 NFL Pro Bowler.
The great thing about leagues like the USFL is that it allows players to shine with playing time, as Kavontae Turpin did a year ago.
New superstars in the USFL will emerge when the lights turn back on. The New Jersey Generals will have the spotlight shine on them when they attempt to take down the Champs on Saturday, April 15th.
March 15, 2023 at 5:15 pm
Excellent article! As a General’s fan myself as a young kid I remember Ted Cottrell being with OG Generals under Walt Michaels. I have wanted him to be in the USFL and though I am not a fan of the 3-4, I am a dan of Ted Cottrell having been a good DC at ecery turn. I also want to thank you for confirming the staff. Wikipedia does a good job, but it seems like are always behind and the USFL site doesn’t keep coaches. The information you provide is always welcomed by fans of the league.