Bears News: Previewing the USFL: Birmingham Stallions

Bears News: Previewing the USFL: Birmingham Stallions

by - Senior Writer -

With the XFL continuing their season and reaching the mid-way point without any hiccups, it is time to marvel at the job they have done to keep this league afloat this season. From great marketing, a mostly great TV schedule, and just doing a great job keeping fans engaged with the action on the Field, having the XFL back is great for even the most casual football fan.

However, soon there will be competition for the XFL, at least regarding viewership, as the USFL will return for its second season on April 15. That means week one of their season is week nine of the XFL season giving football fans four weeks of multiple spring football leagues to pay attention to.

With the Bears being much quieter on the free agent front the past few days, it has given us some downtime to discuss/preview the USFL ahead and what to expect from the teams participating. Today it is none other than the Birmingham Stallions as they are looking to defend their championship in 2023.

Not only did the USFL go well for all parties involved, as they managed to complete the entire season, but no team was as successful as the Stallions in their first season. This was a team that won the South division by three games and went on to post a 9-1 record during the regular season. They continued their dominance in the postseason by pickup up a pair of wins to capture the title and closed out the 2022 season with a 11-1 overall record.

Back for his second year at the helm is Skip Holtz, who couldn't have asked for a better showing in his first season. The former South Florida and Louisiana Tech coach, Holtz, posted an impressive 152-121 record at the NCAA ranks and went on to win several Conference USA titles and bowl games.

Given an opportunity to coach the USFL for the first time, Holtz continued his winning ways by going 11-1 in his first season and winning the league championship, as the Stallions will have huge targets on their backs this season. Unlike most teams in this league, Holtz is not only the head coach but also the offensive play caller, making things easier as a staff. Holtz is aided by Larry Kirksey (RB coach), Mike Jones (WR coach), and Neil Callaway (OL coach).

On the defensive side of the ball, it will be the LB coach and defensive coordinator, John Chavis calling the shots, as this was one of the team's strengths in 2022. Chavis brings Marty Long (DL coach), Bob Schoop (DB coach), and Danic Riley as his defensive coaches as they look to set the tone again this season.

When looking at their roster, we can start with the offensive side of the ball, where they have a ton of returning talent. Birmingham is the one team that employs a QB-by-committee strategy, and that could be the case once again as Alex McGough and J'Mar Smith are back to lead the offense. Smith put up great numbers last season, throwing for 1573 yards with 10 TDs and 6 INT, while McGough added nearly 500 yards with 3 TDs.

Helping to offset the passing game will be the rushing attack led by former Chicago Bear CJ Marable.

Bo Scarbrough will join him to form a terrific lightning-and-thunder combination that will be tough for other teams to defend. A big reason for their success in the passing game was having terrific playmakers at the WR position.

That will be the case again this season as Rico Gafford, Davion Davis, Austin Watkins, and Myron Mitchell will anchor the WR room. Mitchell is the most notable name on this list, as he was on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad for two seasons.

You also have a pair of TEs to contend with, including former Green Bay Packer and third-round pick Jace Sternberger, who hopes to stay healthy and earn his ticket back to the NFL.

Regarding the defense, the Stallions are athletic, physical and are not afraid to lean on the defense to win games. Darius Stills, Jonathan Newsome, Joe Jackson, and Willie Henry are just a list of some of the names up front who will look to control the trenches.

Behind them comes a talented group of LBs with a knack for being around the football. Scooby Wright leads that group and is about to play in his fourth season in a spring league.

Rashad Smith will join him as he comes with minimal NFL experience, with several others looking to land one of the final LB starts.

Should a team be able to contend with their front seven and get to the secondary, the Stallions are confident in that group to make plays. Brian Allen, Nate Brooks, and Bryan Mills are the expected starters at the CB position, with TJ Carter and Donnie Lewis expected to get some snaps. You have Nate Holley leading the way at the safety position, as he will be paired with Tyree Robinson.

You also have TJ Green and Christian McFarland as safety options giving Birmingham another deep roster that is playoff tested and could be the favorites in the league again.

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