Friday, June 2, 2023

USFL: Pittsburgh Maulers (2-3) at Memphis Showboats (2-3)

When they meet, the USFL’s strength will be shown by the Showboats and the Maulers.

In the past few weeks, two teams that were once considered to be the worst in the league have come to life.

Based on their 1-9 record from last year, the Maulers started the season as the worst team. In 2023, the Showboats lost three consecutive games.

The Showboats (2-3) and Maulers (2-3) are currently competing for one of the four USFL playoff spots in the second half of the season. While it required some investment for the offenses to find their balance behind Show-offs quarterback Cole Kelley and Maulers quarterback Troy Williams, these groups have been conveyed by safeguard.

Carnell Lake’s Memphis D exhibited its capacity to stop one of the association’s best scoring offenses — and a season finisher group a year prior — in a 17-10 win against the New Orleans Breakers. The Breakers entered their home hub stadium in Birmingham leading the USFL in total offense and tied for first in scoring, as I noted in my USFL power rankings for Week 5. Memphis’ protection held the Breakers to only 10 places.

With 12 stops, safety Troy Warner led this impressive defense. Big Kat Bryant and Greg Reaves are two other members of that defense to keep an eye on this week.

The Maulers, who have demonstrated that they are capable of playing the kind of defense that could propel them into the playoffs, will face an impressive challenge from the Showboats if their offense continues to pass for 200 yards without committing a turnover.

Last week, the Maulers dispatched North Division rival Michigan, 23-7, multiplying their season-long win complete from one year prior.

With 243 of the Maulers’ 299 total yards, quarterback Williams won USFL Offensive Player of the Week honors for his offensive performance. In their victory, he completed 15 of 19 passes for 184 yards, 59 rush yards, and three touchdowns.

In the victory, the Maulers capitalized in the red zone to score their most points of the season. Before Week 5, the Maulers changed over only one of 12 red zone endeavors into a TD. However, Pittsburgh scored touchdowns on three of its four red zone attempts against the Panthers.

Against a Showboats team that has only given up ten points in each of their victories this season, that pattern will probably need to continue.

In the victory, the Maulers grabbed four rebounds, putting them in a three-way tie for first place in the North Division. In Pittsburgh’s victory on Saturday, Mauler defensive back Mark Gilbert had two tackles, five passes defended, and an interception.

On Saturday, at 4 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app, the Birmingham Stallions (3-2) face off against the Michigan Panthers (2-3) in an inter-division matchup.

The Birmingham Stallions lost to the Houston Gamblers last week, who have won three straight games while Birmingham has lost two of its last three. They’ve slipped to third in FOX Sports’ USFL power rankings, yet with the New Orleans Breakers losing their most memorable game last end of the week, the South remaining parts completely open.

The North, on the other hand, is deadlocked between all four teams when the South is wide open. The Panthers could gain significant ground if they win their first game at home, as each North team is 2-3.

Is it possible for the Stallions to re-equip?

The Stallions are at a critical juncture as they attempt to get their offense back on track, despite the fact that both teams have shown glimpses this season. Alex McGough, the quarterback, will be the focus of all attention as he attempts to rekindle the Stallions’ scoring machine.

In recent weeks, offensive struggles have become a regrettable theme for Birmingham. After a promising beginning to the season, the Steeds’ creation has faltered. The Stallions scored an impressive 28 points per game in their first three games, but over the past two weeks, they have only scored 14 points per game. It is abundantly clear that they require an urgent spark to rekindle their offensive firepower.

This is where McGough comes into the image. The former NFL signal-caller’s arm talent and ability to extend plays with his legs were anticipated to be the Stallions’ driving force this season. In the loss last weekend, McGough completed 24 of 37 passes for 209 yards and rushed for 76 yards with two touchdowns. Assuming he keeps that up, the Steeds could be right back in the race for the South division.

Michigan still trying to get its first win at Ford Field The Panthers are in a dangerous spot as they try to get their first home win. With the Steeds coming to town, the Jaguars are expecting to at long last convey triumph before their old neighborhood fans. However, this crucial matchup is further complicated by the ongoing quarterback rivalry between Josh Love and Carson Strong.

Love and Strong have both had their good times, but their performances have been inconsistent. When it comes to choosing which quarterback will give the team the best chance of securing that elusive victory at home, head coach Mike Nolan is forced to perform a delicate balancing act.

Love started the fifth week before being pulled in the second half. Strong had entered for a drive several weeks earlier, and Love had resumed his position as center in the second half. Last week, that wasn’t true. Strong entered the game near the end of the first half and remained in the game for the second. Despite not scoring on their first possession, the Panthers lost the game to the Pittsburgh Maulers 23-7.

Notwithstanding the quarterback circumstance, the Jaguars’ offense in general should track down its musicality. The ground game specifically needs a flash given that the Jaguars are averaging simply 98.4 surging yards per game, which positions 6th in the association.

Will Strong’s potential or Love’s experience pave the way for the Panthers? As Michigan continues its quest for its first home victory, only time will tell.

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